Andrew Wiggins signs five-year max extension with Timberwolves

By @saihoops on
Andrew Wiggins, Minnesota Timberwolves
Apr 11, 2017; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves forward Andrew Wiggins (22) dribbles the ball against Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kyle Singler (15) in the first quarter at Target Center. USA TODAY Sports / Jesse Johnson

Former No. 1 overall draft pick Andrew Wiggins and the Minnesota Timberwolves have agreed to a five-year max contract extension worth US$146 million (AU$186 million), according to reports. The news comes just a few days after the Philadelphia 76ers signed centre Joel Embiid to a similar rookie-scale max extension.

The Timberwolves had to take a call on Wiggins before the Oct. 16 extension deadline for 2014 NBA draft members. Otherwise, Wiggins would have become a Restricted Free Agent (RFA) next July. Although Timberwolves would have still been in prime position to retain Wiggins' services, the franchise was keen to lock up the forward for the long run.  

Wiggins, originally drafted by the Cleveland Cavaliers, was traded to the Timberwolves as part of the blockbuster Kevin Love trade in 2015. Since then, the forward/guard has progressed only a yearly basis and is projected to make his first All-Star appearance in the near future. When he arrived in Minnesota in 2015, he professed, "I hope I'm here forever," and echoed the sentiment on Wednesday.

"I like everyone from the trainers to the coaches to the front office, my teammates. I love everybody. They've treated me with nothing but nice since I got here. And they were the first people who gave me the opportunity to play in the NBA after I got traded from Cleveland and they welcomed me with open arms so this is where I wanted to be at," Wiggins said in a press conference after Minnesota's training session.

Can Minnesota Timberwolves challenge the Warriors?

The Timberwolves landed Wiggins and Karl Anthony-Towns with back-to-back No. 1 overall picks in 2014 and 2015. They recently acquired All-Star Jimmy Butler via trade and are expected to make noise during the upcoming NBA season. Several analysts have tipped the Timberwolves as the team with the most talent to eventually challenge the juggernaut, i.e., the Golden State Warriors.  

Tom Thibodeau, coach and president for the Timberwolves, believes Wiggins has a very bright future in the NBA. "He's never satisfied. He wants to get better. I think he's already demonstrated that to make the progress that he's already shown is impressive, but as I mentioned, it's scratching the surface. And now we hope that it'll continue to grow and it'll translate into wins."

Andrew Wiggins averaged a career-high tally of 23.6 points, 4.0 rebounds and 2.3 assists in his third season in Minnesota. Despite his impressive stat-line, several analysts feel Wiggins remains a liability on the defensive end and needs to improve his perimeter shooting. With All-Star Jimmy Butler's arrival, Wiggins is expected to assume a lesser role this coming season.