The Associated PressMINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A five-year contract extension worth nearly $150 million sat in front of Andrew Wiggins for more than two months.
Not only did the 22-year-old Wiggins not jump at the first chance to sign it, he decided to revamp the team of advisers around him and essentially lead the process himself. The Minnesota Timberwolves are hoping that self-assurance and unflappable nature helps a franchise long in the basement finally break through.
Wiggins signed his contract Wednesday, a straight five-year deal with no player option that puts a big piece of business to rest a week before the Wolves open the season.
From his rookie of the year press conference in 2015 when he professed “I hope I’m here forever” to the eve of his fourth season in the league, the Canadian has never wavered in his admiration for his home away from home.
“I like everyone from the trainers to the coaches to the front office, my teammates,” Wiggins said.
“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 averaged 23.6 points in his third season in the league and has cemented himself as one of the building blocks of an up-and-coming franchise. Along with Karl-Anthony Towns and Jimmy Butler, Wiggins is expected to help the Timberwolves end a 13-season playoff drought.
He will not turn 23 until February and has yet to make an All-Star team. But had he made it to restricted free agency next summer, there was a very good chance another team would have sent a max offer sheet his way. The Timberwolves beat them to the punch.
“He’s never satisfied. He wants to get better,” coach and president Tom Thibodeau said.
“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.”
Owner Glen Taylor made it clear to Wiggins early in the summer that he was comfortable with paying the huge price to keep the athletic wing in the fold. It is extremely rare for a player coming off of a rookie contract to turn down a max-level extension, but Wiggins did inject a little drama into what is normally a straight forward process.
The sides were on the verge of reaching a deal in August when Wiggins decided to part ways with agent Bill Duffy, who had represented him ever since he was drafted by Cleveland and traded to Minnesota in 2014.Speech