Karl-Anthony Towns had a very good season for the Timberwolves in 2021-22, appearing in 74 games while averaging 24.6 points and nearly 10 rebounds as the Wolves made the playoffs for the first time in four years.
He was deservedly rewarded with selection to the All-NBA third team, garnering 38 second-team votes and 60 third-team votes out of 100 ballots.
But that simple distinction — earning a spot on one of those three All-NBA teams, which are voted on by NBA writers and broadcasters — made the difference in tens of millions of dollars on the four-year contract extension Towns signed last summer.
That supermax deal kicks in at the start of the 2024-25 season, earning Towns what was reported at the time to be $224 million over four years (though it might be even more now since it is determined as a percentage of the salary cap). He still would have made a ton of money, but a significant $8 million to $10 million less per year, had he not been voted onto the All-NBA team.
Such a small thing having such a major impact on player earnings and a team salary cap — particularly something determined by subjective voting — is in my estimation one of the worst ideas in all of sports, as I talked about on Thursday's Daily Delivery podcast.
And now the Wolves are set to go through it all over again with Anthony Edwards.
As noted earlier this week in Chris Hine's story on the Wolves and Edwards agreeing to a five-year extension, that deal will either be worth $217 million or $260 million — all depending on whether Edwards makes one of the three All-NBA teams this year, before the extension kicks in.
Again, that's a difference of $43 million — more than $8 million per season. The provision makes no distinction between being first, second or third team.
The Wolves obviously would be thrilled if Edwards has the kind of season worthy of being voted onto one of the three All-NBA teams, but it would also further complicate their salary cap — a crunch that is coming next season already, in part, because of the size of Towns' contract.
This is not to begrudge either player for getting paid all they are worth. This is just to say the way the amount is determined is ill-advised and adds an unnecessary challenge for teams trying to plan for the future.