MINNEAPOLIS — Andrew Wiggins has a five-year, $148 million contract offer from the Minnesota Timberwolves sitting right in front of him just waiting to be signed.
In his typical, laid-back fashion, Wiggins is greeting the life-changing money with a shrug of the shoulders and a “what’s the big deal?” Even though training camp is set to begin on Saturday and the Timberwolves will depart for a preseason exhibition tour in China a week later, Wiggins is in no hurry to finalize the extension and get it off of his plate.
“We’ve got until a day before the regular season,” Wiggins said Friday. “So there’s not really no rush or anything. I feel really good about it.”
And why shouldn’t he? The former No. 1 overall draft pick who came to Minnesota in a trade with Cleveland for Kevin Love in 2014 has positioned himself to be the only member of his draft class to cash in on a max contract extension. He is coming off of a season in which he averaged 23.6 points per game and has played in 245 of 246 possible games in his first three seasons.
While some wonder if Wiggins is truly worth that level of investment when the Timberwolves will have to give Karl-Anthony Towns a max extension next summer and likely have to extend the newly acquired Jimmy Butler in two years. However, Minnesota is not hesitating to throw every last cent it can at the 22-year-old wing who serves as one of the cornerstones for the team’s anticipated revival.
“We all tend to measure him against a player who has been in the league seven or eight years and tend to forget the steps those players had to take to get where they are,” coach Tom Thibodeau said. “He has to continue to work. Obviously, there is a lot of room for improvement. Same thing with Karl. The sky is the limit for them.”
The process has been muddled by Wiggins’ decision to part with agent Bill Duffy and BDA Sports in August. Players change agents all of the time, but the fact that this move came with a megadeal on the verge of agreement made it a little unique. The ensuing confusion pushed negotiations back and Duffy is taking steps to ensure he receives a commission on the deal, given his significant role in shaping it.
“Me and Bill, we were good. Nothing against him at all,” Wiggins said. “It was more from a business point of view from my end. They did nothing but good by my side. I’ve got nothing but positive words for them. I’m just taking it day by day.”
For now, Wiggins is operating without an agent. He said he may continue to do that for the near future, but has not yet made up his mind. He is leaning on a tight circle of family and advisers, including his parents, both of whom were high-profile athletes.
“It’s not as hard as you may think,” Wiggins said.
Despite the delays and confusion surrounding Wiggins’ situation, there remains no doubt on either side about a deal eventually being completed. Wiggins has long praised Minnesota and the organization for the way both have supported him after he was brought here in a trade. So it’s only a matter of when the contract is signed, not if.
“Minnesota’s been good to me. They’ve been loyal, trustworthy and with that contract it means they’re committed,” Wiggins said. “They want me here and I want the same.”
Wolves owner Glen Taylor said in August that he wanted to sit down with Wiggins and have a frank conversation about the expectations that come with such a deal before the two committed to doing it. While some players may have been offended by the public challenging to improve, Wiggins took it all in stride.
“There was no big reaction,” he said. “It was simple: `OK.’
“He’s offering all of that money. He can do whatever he wants.”
And so can Wiggins.
“I don’t think Maple Jordan is going to have a problem this year after signing that contract, which he rightfully deserves,” Towns said, referring to the Canadian’s nickname. “He’s a max player. Getting that contract won’t stop him from achieving the goals he has set on himself, which is to be one of the best players in the NBA, which he is.”