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Former No. 1 overall pick Andrew Wiggins publicly petitioned in late July for “nothing less” than a maximum contract extension, and Minnesota Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor responded mere hours later by telling local media, “I don’t think we have any trouble of offering him the max anyway.”
So, it was only a matter of time before pen was put to paper. It appears that time is near, as Taylor told 1500 ESPN Twin Cities reporter Darren Wolfson that a deal should be done by the start of camp.
The Wiggins 5-years, $148M extension is expected to be done before Saturday's 1st practice, per a chat I had w/ owner Glen Taylor. #Twolves
— Darren Wolfson (@DWolfsonKSTP) September 18, 2017
We have weighed the pros and cons of the Wolves signing Wiggins to a five-year, $148 million contract many times in this space before, most recently when we ranked the 22-year-old 11th in our “NBA 25 Under 25” series and third among the league’s top five scorers under age 25, with the following caveat:
Wiggins could be the sort of slashing scorer and rising swingman who can elevate a team with Karl-Anthony Towns and the recently acquired Jimmy Butler to championship contention over the course of his next deal. He might also completely saddle a franchise that’s never reached the Finals with a cap-killing contract that pays him $33.7 million in 2022-23.
There are, of course, several layers between. Somewhere within lies Wiggins’ most likely destiny.
There is one pro, though, that the Wolves simply could not ignore: Few scorers in NBA history have been so prolific at such a young age as Wiggins, who at age 21 averaged 23.6 points per game this past season. His 3-point percentage climbed to a league-average 35.6 percent, and he proved capable of posting one of the most efficient high-volume scoring games ever (47 points on 21 shots in February).
Minnesota is banking on the same upward improvement Wiggins has shown offensively in his first three years, with fingers crossed that his defense — deemed the NBA’s worst by FiveThirtyEight.com’s metrics in 2016-17 — doesn’t saddle the Timberwolves with an incomplete player making the full max.
After all, the Wolves were unwilling to include Wiggins in trade discussions with the Cleveland Cavaliers on a deal that would have solidified an All-Star core of Kyrie Irving, Butler and Towns for the next two seasons, so clearly Minnesota has high hopes the 2014 top pick can reach his potential.
So, what took so long for two sides seemingly in agreement on terms to get a deal done?
First, Taylor wanted Wiggins to look him in the eye and promise he’ll improve. “There are some things that I need out of him,” Taylor told the Associated Press, “and that is the commitment to be a better player than you are today.” So, maybe training camp offers the chance for them to meet face to face.
And secondly, Wiggins fired super-agent Bill Duffy last month, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. That was sure to complicate matters, since Duffy reportedly negotiated the $148 million extension, and the commission on Wiggins’ max contract could have been as much as $6 million.
“We are disappointed that Andrew made this decision, especially after a three-year partnership where we worked closely with Andrew and his entire family,” Duffy told ESPN. “Unfortunately, tampering is a common problem in our industry, and that’s part of the reason why I’ve already been in contact with the [National Basketball Players’ Association] to discuss my rights in this matter. Obviously, whenever Andrew signs the max extension that we negotiated with Minnesota, we will work with the NBPA to make sure that our interests are protected.”
The Timberwolves will host their annual media day on Friday in Minneapolis, with Wiggins in attendance. The team is scheduled to hold its first practice on Saturday morning in San Diego.
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