Contract situation resolved, time to ball.
Andrew Wiggins signed a max contract extension with Minnesota Timberwolves Wednesday, October 11. The five year extension is worth $148 million for the player acquired via trade two months after getting drafted first overall by Cleveland Cavaliers in 2014. His rookie season he won NBA Rookie of the Year, NBA Rising Stars Challenge MVP and named on NBA All-Rookie First team in 2015. His third NBA season, playing all 82 games, he put up career highs in points per game (23.6), rebounds (4) and assists (2.3).
“I’m pleased that we’ve reached an agreement with Andrew on a contract extension,” Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor said, according to Timberwolves.com. “Andrew is one of the best young players in the NBA and he has the talent and work ethic to get even better and be a foundation for our franchise for many years.”
For Wiggins, the moment he signed the contract was a dream come true.
“I’ve been looking forward to this my whole life,” Wiggins said during Wednesday’s press conference. “Its a relief. That’s money that a lot of people don’t see in a lifetime…that’s a blessing.”
Looking forward to playing for the loyal organization that gave him his first opportunity to play in the NBA his goal now is making the playoffs, Wiggins explained. Timberwolves currently have the longest active postseason drought in the NBA with their last appearance the 2004-05 season when Kevin Garnett won league MVP.
To get there will take a group of players who will play for each other, head coach Tom Thibodeau said.
“When you have a team like we have everyone has to sacrifice and put the team first,” Thibodeau said.
Knowing he’s getting that from Wiggins there’s another trait Thibodeau says he admires about him.
“He’s never satisfied and he wants to get better…he’s always done that to make the progress that he’s already showing,” he said. “The drive, the intelligence and obviously…a lot of talent to achieve. Those characteristics are important and they embody winners.”
His practice and preparation will allow Wiggins to reach his potential, he said.
Seeing more double teams on pick and rolls and during post up situations were new challenges Wiggins faced last season, Thibodeau said. With teams taking an aggressive approach in attempt to limit Wiggins production from the tip-off, as oppose to waiting to see if he gets hot, these are things Wiggins will learn to deal with over time, Thibodeau said. Understanding Wiggins is willing to put in the work Thibodeau, as Timberwovles President of Basketball Operations, is satisfied with giving Wiggins a max contract.
“He’s sort of low-key but I know the fire,” Thibodeau said. “We’re very excited to have him. He has a unique skill set, he can score the ball in many different ways.”
Heading into this season Timberwolves were aggressive to bring in talent to support and compliment both young players in Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns, who was named NBA’s Rookie of the Year in 2016. Doing such they acquired Jimmy Butler via trade on NBA Draft night, traded for a new point guard in Jeff Teague, signed Taj Gibson in free agency and signed longtime veteran Jamal Crawford to contribute as a role player off the bench.
“How we surround Andrew and Karl, that’s important,” Thibodeau said. “We want to continue to add players.”
What’s made Minnesota a destination is the young roster. Having back-to-back NBA Rookie of the Year winners in Towns and Wiggins has certainty helped.
“When you look at the West there’s not going to be any easy games,” Thibodeau said.
Minnesota Timberwolves will open their season against San Antonio Spurs, a team coming off a season they reached the Western Conference Finals.
By Gino Terrell