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Wolves' Towns misses out on $32 million bonus

Minnesota Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns (32) backs toward the basket in the first half against the Philadelphia 76ers at Target Center on Saturday, March 30. Jesse Johnson / USA TODAY Sports

MINNEAPOLIS — Karl-Anthony Towns came up one spot shy of an extra $32 million.

Towns finished fourth in voting among centers in All-NBA voting — only the top three vote-getters receive All-NBA honors. That’s what Towns needed this season to qualify for a supermax extension, which would have allowed him to receive up to 30% of the team’s salary cap space, as opposed to the standard 25%.

So the five-year extension Towns signed last offseason, which comes into effect this season, is now worth a total of roughly $158 million, instead of $190 million.

Towns was beat out by Denver’s Nikola Jokic (first team), Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid (second) and Utah’s Rudy Gobert (third). Most considered the race for the third-team spot to be between Gobert and Towns. The fact Gobert, a first-team All-NBA defense honoree, was given the honor over Towns isn’t shocking, but the margin by which he did it was.

Gobert received one first-place vote, five second-place votes and 69 third-place votes, while Towns — who received an all-star selection this season over Gobert — received just 20 third-place votes. Gobert won in a landslide, which is surprising given Towns topped Gobert for third-team honors a year ago and was a far better player this season than he was a year ago, upping his scoring in spite of added defensive attention, while improving on the defensive end and becoming the Wolves’ unquestioned leader.

He averaged 24.4 points, 12.4 rebounds and 3.4 assists this season. Post all-star break, those numbers jumped to 28.1 points and 13.4 rebounds.

The main factor working against Towns was, of course, the winning. Towns earned third-team honors last season after Minnesota snapped a 14-year playoff drought. The Timberwolves, saddled with an injury-riddled roster for much of the second half of the season, finished with a pedestrian 36-46 mark this season, while Utah compiled 50 wins to earn the fifth seed in the Western Conference.

The positive for the Timberwolves with this result is a little salary cap relief. Minnesota’s current contracts for next season figure to have the team pressed up against the salary cap, but the $5 million fewer Towns will make next season could help keep the team out of the luxury tax and possibly make it easier for Minnesota to re-sign restricted free agent Tyus Jones and use its mid-level exception to sign a free agent.