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The Timberwolves' loss to Denver on Wednesday significantly dented their chances of landing the No. 1 seed in the West and made being the No. 2 seed by far the likeliest outcome.

If that's where they wind up, their first-round opponent will be the winner of the No. 7 vs. No. 8 play-in game -- an opponent that could be any number of options at this point, with no easy advancement among them.

Regardless of opponent, though, the coming weeks (months, the Wolves hope) will have a significant impact on the franchise's path forward -- as I talked about on Thursday's Daily Delivery podcast.

Here are four significant things that could impact -- or be impacted by -- how far the Wolves advance this spring:

1. Karl-Anthony Towns' return: The Wolves have done well navigating Towns' late-season knee injury, going 12-6 so far and generally keeping pace with the West's best teams.

But they are clearly a better and deeper team with their All-Star big man in the lineup, a fact punctuated when their offense became stagnant and too many shots were missed in Wednesday's loss to Denver. It's hard to imagine a deep playoff run -- particularly beating Denver in a long series -- without a major contribution from Towns, who is on the runway to return soon.

2. The Wolves' upcoming salary crunch: In playing much better this year than last without Towns, the Wolves have given themselves a glimpse of what life might be like if they decide to trade him this offseason. But it's hard to imagine Minnesota breaking up its core if it makes a run to at least the conference finals.

Anything short of that -- and particularly a first-round exit -- could cause the acrimonious ownership triumvirate of Glen Taylor (who also owns the Star Tribune), Marc Lore and Alex Rodriguez to shed salary this summer instead of paying luxury tax penalties.

3. Tim Connelly's future: Speaking of that ownership situation, the NBA is inclined to let a mediation and arbitration process play out over many months. Shams Charania reports that Wolves President Tim Connelly has an opt-out clause in his contract at the end of this season. He was brought here by Lore and Rodriguez, with Taylor's approval. Would how the Wolves fare in the playoffs have any impact on Connelly's desire to exercise that option?

4. Anthony Edwards' development: The face of the Wolves franchise is Edwards. He's had a taste of the playoffs the last two years, with play-in wins followed by first-round exits. This is the first time, though, that there will be expectations that the Wolves will win at least one series -- which again, won't be easy given the quality of potential opponents. As Edwards' game and reputation continue to grow, advancing in the playoffs is a key step.