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Clippers Propose Blockbuster Trade to Timberwolves

Michael Scotto

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The Los Angeles Clippers proposed a blockbuster deal to the Minnesota Timberwolves involving forward Blake Griffin and center Karl-Anthony Towns, league sources told Basketball Insiders.

The trade proposal didn’t advance past an exploratory call from the Clippers as Minnesota declined, league sources told Basketball Insiders. Minnesota views Towns, the former No. 1 overall pick of the 2015 draft, as a franchise-caliber player and a vital piece of the future who is not for sale at this time.

As a result, additional Timberwolves players needed to make the trade work financially were not discussed, league sources told Basketball Insiders.

Griffin makes $29.5 million and Towns only makes $6.2 million this season, which makes a one-for-one swap impossible due to the $23.3 million salary gap. At least two additional Timberwolves players would need to be included in a trade involving Griffin and Towns to make it work financially. The Clippers would’ve also needed to create another roster spot for the hypothetical incoming third Timberwolves player.

Griffin, a five-time All-Star and former No. 1 overall pick of the 2009 draft, signed a five-year, $171 million deal this past summer and is not eligible to be traded until January 15. Griffin’s deal includes a $39 million player option for the 2021-22 season according to our Clippers salary page.

The Clippers are trending downward at 20-21 overall and are in danger of missing the playoffs for the first time in seven seasons. Furthermore, the future of several players is uncertain, including All-Star DeAndre Jordan and former Sixth Man of the Year Lou Williams.

Jordan has a $24.1 million player option for next season and nearly left Los Angeles to join the Dallas Mavericks in the summer of 2015. Jordan is averaging 11.8 points, 14.9 rebounds and 1.0 blocks per game.

Williams is playing at an All-Star level and will enter unrestricted free agency this summer. Williams is averaging a career-high 23.1 points and 5.0 assists in 31.6 minutes per game as the league’s top sixth man. Williams is also shooting a career-high 45 percent overall, 41 percent from beyond the arc, and 91 percent at the foul line.

Despite the free agent addition of Danilo Gallinari, the writing on the wall for a rebuild was evident when All-Star guard Chris Paul was traded to the Houston Rockets.

It’s worth noting the Clippers are narrowly under the tax by $123,000, which will affect any trade discussions as the trade deadline nears on February 8.

As for Minnesota, the Timberwolves are currently in fourth place in the Western Conference and appear to have turned the corner after struggling as a franchise for over a decade.

Minnesota holds the record for the longest current playoff drought with 13 straight trips to the lottery. However, the Timberwolves are on pace to break that dubious streak this season thanks to the additions of All-Stars Jimmy Butler and Jeff Teague, as well as proven veterans Jamal Crawford and Taj Gibson.

Towns and Wiggins, the former No. 1 overall pick of the 2014 draft, are the cornerstones for the Timberwolves for the foreseeable future.

Michael Scotto is a Senior NBA Writer for Basketball Insiders in his sixth season covering the league. He also works for The Associated Press focusing on Brooklyn Nets and New York Knicks game coverage.

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