It did not take much prompting from Chicago Bulls free agent Patrick Beverley to get Minnesota Timberwolves star Karl-Anthony Towns talking about Zach LaVine. And the three-time All-Star was effusive in his praise.
“I played with Zach LaVine,” Beverley told Towns on the ‘Pat Bev Podcast with Rone’ on June 14. “You played with Zach LaVine. That m***********’s cold.”
From there, it was a lot of Towns sounding like Beverley when he first signed with the Bulls.
“What? He’s one of the best scorers I’ve ever seen in my life. And I’m a scorer,” an animated Towns said. “I’m a scorer and I’ve never seen some of the s*** that he do. And he got no feelings for pressure or nothing. It’s just straight bucket work…His three ball’s so pure. He worked so hard on his game.”
A December 18 blowout loss for the Bulls against the Timberwolves serves as a good split for the two-time All-Star, LaVine.
LaVine averaged 21.8 points while shooting 44.1% overall and 36.0% from deep over his first 24 appearances of the season, missing four games as he worked his way back into shape from arthroscopic surgery over the offseason.
He averaged 26.2 points, shot 50.5% from the floor, and hit 38.3% of his threes from then on.
“He’s a real NBA 2K created player,” Beverley said.
“You be forgetting he tore his ACL,” said Towns. “The way he be moving, and the way he be working out, you don’t be thinking he needs to take it easy. And he grinds – I worked out with him in Seattle with his pops. Man, that man was running football fields. I was like, ‘No’. He was doing the Tim Hardaway joints. He cold.”
Asked what the “Tim Hardaway” joints were, Towns explained the cardio workout familiar to all athletes across all sports.
Beverley said the same things when he first arrived and urged LaVine to focus on scoring.
“I seen today a couple shots where he kind of hesitated,” Beverley said after joining the team in February via the Bulls YouTube channel. “I told him, your job here is not to pass at all. We don’t need you to pass, we need you to put the ball in the hole at an elite level.”
LaVine has often touted the work he puts in during the offseason as the reason he has so much confidence in his game, even in the face of added scrutiny after signing a five-year, $215 million max contract last offseason. He even signed the deal without taking any other visits in free agency.
The Bulls acquired LaVine from Minnesota in a package for now-Miami Heat star Jimmy Butler on draft night in 2017.
Towns also got into his future in Minnesota.
Proposed Trade Lands Karl-Anthony Towns on Bulls
“I’m gonna keep it simple like this: The rumors are as true or as false as Minnesota makes them to be,” Towns said.
There are conflicting reports about Towns’ future in Minnesota as his cryptic response to the rumors may have led on. If he does come available, the Bulls’ best trade package figures to look something like this:
– Karl-Anthony Towns
Towns, 27, averaged 20.1 points, 8.1 rebounds, and 4.8 assists this past season, shooting 49.5% from the floor and 36.6% from beyond the arc. It was just the 19th time a player has averaged at least 20.0 points, 8.0 boards, and 4.0 assists while shooting 49% from the floor and 36% from three or better in NBA history, per Stathead.
It also came in just 29 games with Towns suffering a calf injury that cost him most of the season.
He is going into the final year of a five-year, $158 million contract but will begin a four-year, $224 million supermax contract after next season.
The Bulls Should Make Another Call to Minnesota
The deal above likely gets outbid by a team with control of their draft picks sooner, though the Bulls could add some swap options. But it would give Minnesota win-now pieces and draft picks for the future, the Bulls a proper co-star for LaVine, and keeps Patrick Williams in town.
DeRozan, 33, is heading into the final year of his contract while Caruso, 29 – who earned his first All-Defensive Team selection this season – will be a free agent after the 2024-25 season.
If Minnesota insists on Williams, Chicago could try to keep Caruso out, and the Bulls are limited in what other contracts they have to make the deal work. But they wouldn’t have to worry about letting Nikola Vucevic walk in free agency if this was agreed to, and it would prolong their window to contend in the Eastern Conference by several years.