On the heels of the 2014 Rookie of the Year telling Sports Illustrated’s Ben Golliver that he believes he’s definitely worthy of a max deal that could total $148 million over five years, Wolves owner Glen Taylor told Sid Hartman of the Minneapolis Star Tribune that, while the negotiations are in the early stages, that’s precisely what the Wolves are working on giving the former No. 1 overall draft pick:
“First of all, I think he likes it here, we like him, he can get the very best contract from me, better than he can get from anyone else,” Taylor, who also owns the Star Tribune, said in Mankato. “I don’t think we have any trouble of offering him the max anyway.” […]
“We are talking to [Wiggins’] agent right now about extending him out another five years, so we can do that,” Taylor said. “Karl, we won’t do that until next year. Wiggins, we want to sign him to a long-term contract, we want to keep him here, and we’re negotiating with his agent. But we just started that negotiation, and we have quite some time to get that done.” […]
Just before the start of free agency on July 1, Taylor proclaimed Wiggins and 2015 No. 1 pick/Rookie of the Year Karl-Anthony Towns “kind of untouchable.” A lot about the Wolves’ situation has changed since that statement — the arrival of Jimmy Butler, the departure of Ricky Rubio, the additions of Jeff Teague, Taj Gibson and Jamal Crawford to add some veteran leadership, scoring punch and defensive steel to a team in pursuit of its first playoff berth since 2004 — but Taylor’s stance has remained the same, according to Jace Frederick of the St. Paul Pioneer Press:
“It’s the way I look at it,” Taylor said. “These guys have been the key guys and the youth, and I think we still want to see ourselves as a long-term contender and I think we want to keep these young guys on our team.” […]
“We’ve already talked to them,” Taylor said. “I don’t think there’s any pressure for either party to do it right now, but I see it preceding along in kind of a normal process. In the past I’ve always seen these things drag out longer than I think they should. So I wouldn’t be surprised if it takes a while, but I don’t have any concerns that we’ll get it done.”
According to Larry Coon’s CBA FAQ, the deadline for extensions of rookie deals for members of the draft class of 2014 is “the day before the start of the regular season preceding the player’s last option season,” which this year will be Oct. 16.
As I wrote Friday, Wiggins is a tricky sort of player to evaluate. On one hand, he’s a superb athlete with prototypical height and length for a modern-day swingman who has proven a capable driver, slasher, scorer and on-ball defender, and who has made incremental improvements in his areas of weakness over the course of his three pro seasons. On the other, his scoring has come in the context of bad Wolves teams that have desperately needed somebody to get buckets for the last three years, and he has yet to show a consistent ability to make a tangible positive difference in other areas of the game.
If you value production over projection, you’d be hard-pressed to argue that what Wiggins has shown thus far suggests he’ll be worth nearly $30 million per year for the next half-decade. Flip those priorities, though, and you see a player who excels at the crucial task of shot creation, who is one of only 13 players in NBA history to average more than 23 points per game before his age-22 season, who flashed a more reliable 3-point stroke last season, whose efficiency figures to improve as he attacks tertiary defenders on teams preoccupied with stopping Towns and Butler, and who has the tools to become a sound team defender with another year of Tom Thibodeau’s drilling. In other words: the kind of player any team with its sights set on making a charge up the standings in a brutal Western Conference will need in the years to come. (“We looked at the Warriors and said, ‘That’s our goal,’ and what can we do to find ourselves so that we can be competitive against them,” Taylor told the Pioneer Press.)
Wiggins is a Rorschach test; what you take away from watching him might say more about you than it does about him. After spending three years watching him up close and personal, Taylor’s apparently seen enough to want to keep Wiggins around for the long haul, and to be willing to pay top dollar to make that happen. All that’s left, then, is some dotting of i’s, some crossing of t’s, and a John Hancock on the dotted line.
“We’re not really negotiating anything like [the final dollar amount],” Taylor told the Star Tribune “There shouldn’t be any problem.”
We’ve got about 2 1/2 months to find out whether Wiggins will be in the Twin Cities well into the 2020s, or whether Taylor’s just spoken some famous last words.
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