On Monday’s Bill Simmons Podcast, the recent chatter surrounding Karl-Anthony Towns came up with special guest Zach Lowe. Part of the episode was a segment called the Most Shocking Summer Moment You’d Actually Believe.
Simmons tossed out his 1A hypothetical to get the conversation started. “Karl-Anthony Towns will get traded by Minnesota,” he says.
“Don’t believe it,” Lowe responds immediately before clarifying what was actually said on his recent podcast with Brian Windhorst.
“People need to listen to the podcast, OK. People need to listen. All I said in that entire segment was ‘things aren’t great internally,’ which I meant to apply to the entire Timberwolves franchise—and I cited Darren Wolfson’s comment on a recent podcast—which is in a state of unhappiness, a malaise, a something.”
“[Windhorst] then proposes the KAT trade, and I even said, ‘Windy you’re just stirring the pot buddy.’ I said the words stirring the pot. KAT’s not getting traded. Wiggins is a different deal, and there’s some stuff going on internally, but all I said was things aren’t great internally. I did not mean to suggest KAT was going to get traded. He’s not going to get traded. They’re not doing that. I don’t believe it.”
Anyone paying attention to how sports media works these days should have known exactly what would come after Lowe and Windhorst’s original discussion.
Bleacher Report acts as the gasoline in this instance, connecting two separate thoughts and passing them off as one. Lowe cited Wolfson’s report about internal conflict in Minnesota and Windhorst stirs the pot with trade suggestions involving KAT, who some have speculated is unhappy with some things. The conversation is then twisted in a way that amplifies the story nationally and before anyone even has the chance to catch their breath, the internet (as usual) has already assured that a vague story is poised to take on a life of its own.
This is all based on podcast trade fodder that has now grown completely out of control. Is their some disconnect and division in Minnesota? More than likely, yes. But that doesn’t mean the Wolves are going to stupidly trade one of the best assets in the NBA because Thibs and Towns may not see eye-to-eye. One would hope that Glen Taylor would step in and do this, if necessary:
You don’t lose Towns. You just don’t. You fire Thibs, you fire GM. You fire trainers and security staff and chefs and trade Wiggins and Butler and whoever else. You don’t lose Towns. You have him on his rookie deal. Everything else comes after “Keep towns.”— Hardwood Paroxysm (@HPbasketball) May 19, 2018
In any case, it’s not the first time and certainly won’t be the last that all of the major outlets start publishing articles about fake trades based on loose rumors. But getting back to the Simmons podcast, the two start talking about this tweet, which is another rumor that likely grew out of control:
Then yesterday Thibs and Scott Layden got into a screaming match which according to my source, led to Thibs throwing a computer monitor through a glass office wall. Scott then excused most employees to take an extended lunch.— Travis Lyle Czech (@TravLyleCzech) May 11, 2018
Lowe and Simmons say they heard a Minnesota blogger told a story about Thibodeau throwing a computer through glass during an argument with Scott Layden.
“That didn’t happen,” Lowe says. Other sources have said the same. In fact, it’s almost ironic how they start talking about this tweet as if it were a real story written locally by someone covering the Wolves. It was a tweet, that’s it.
This is not meant to discredit or devalue Travis, a loyal commenter here at this very website, but more to the larger point in how information spreads like wildfire these days and has a certain way of shapeshifting to fit whatever narrative people want it to. Does this story of dysfunction all seem believable? Yeah, there have been various rumors, along with real staff firings, namely Rick Brunson and Vince Legarza, that suggest a legitimate shaky and tumultuous environment.
While most franchises are probably having disagreements to varying degrees, the fact remains that not one person has been able to confirm that Tom Thibodeau actually threw a computer monitor through a glass office wall. And to be fair, that seems like fan fiction on the surface. Is Thibs a real life Hulk? Is the rather newly installed glass at Mayo Clinic Square that poor in quality that it can easily be broken? Someone has to ask the hard-hitting questions during such turbulent times.
Simmons then throws out a fake trade: Phoenix calls Minnesota and offers the #1 pick for Towns.
“Minnesota doesn’t do it,” Lowe responds. The two agree, as should everyone else in the world.
“Is Jimmy Butler on Minnesota next year?” Simmons asks next. “Yes,” says Lowe.
“So, you’re running it back?” Simmons quips, a bit surprised.
Lowe then references Jon Krawczynski’s recent piece at The Athletic—Should he stay or should he go? The Wolves’ big Andrew Wiggins question—before Simmons asks, “Who the hell wants Andrew Wiggins’ contract?”
“First of all, you can talk the Kings into anything,” Lowe fires back.
“He just turned 23. You could definitely deal Andrew Wiggins for (I’m going to say) slightly positive value. You could definitely find a deal. He’s 23. There are six teams who will talk themselves into Andrew Wiggins, for sure.
“It’s not indefensible to look at Andrew Wiggins at age 23 and say you know what I’m betting on that guy. I wouldn’t do it. I haven’t liked what Andrew Wiggins’ on-court development has been in the last two years, but it’s not insane.”
“4-years, $146 million,” Simmons utters before a deep sigh.
“It’s ugly,” Lowe replies before saying Brooklyn is too smart to trade for him. Then the conversation devolves into a brief discussion about the Nets recent decisions before moving to the topic of C.J. McCollum’s future in Portland.
The Wolves conversation starts at the 44:00 mark.
Stay safe on those wild Twitter streets.