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Chasing Excellence: The Andrew Wiggins Maximum Contract Extension

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At the Wednesday evening press conference to discuss a maximum contract extension for Andrew Wiggins, Andrew was the same old laid back Wig’.

Golden State Warriors v Minnesota Timberwolves Photo by Zhong Zhi/Getty Images

MINNEAPOLIS — Two days after Joel Embiid signed a five-year maximum contract extension, his college teammate Andrew Wiggins received the maximum rookie contract extension worth $148 million. Four falls ago, Embiid and Wiggins shared the floor at the University of Kansas and today the two have cashed in on their talents to the tune of hundreds of millions.

“Time is moving fast. It seems like yesterday,” said Wiggins at the press conference as he thought back on the days that he and Embiid played in Lawrence, Kansas. “I’m very happy for him. He’s been working his whole life for this. He’s a monster.”

Embiid and Wiggins were eligible for rookie contract extensions as they enter the fourth and final year of their rookie contract. The rookie contract extension is configured in a way that allows a player to earn up to 25 percent (at a maximum) of the salary cap. The contract can then raise by eight percent year-over-year up to $148 million. This, for Wiggins, starts his salary at $25.5 million in 2018-19 and escalates up to $33.6 million by 2022-23.

Max Contract Extension For Andrew Wiggins

Year Max Contract Extension w/ Wolves
Year Max Contract Extension w/ Wolves
2017-18 $7,574,323
Contract extension kicks in 2018-19
2018-19 $25,500,000
2019-20 $27,540,000
2020-21 $29,580,000
2021-22 $31,260,000
2022-23 $33,660,000
*Five-Year Extension Total $147,900,000

*The $147,900,000 total is based on the initial salary cap projections of $102 million for 2018-19. There have been reports that the cap may dip slightly bring the contract's total to $146.5 million.

The numbers for a deal of this magnitude are staggering but Wiggins does not seem shaken. While expressing his thankfulness to the organization for the deal, he doesn’t see his life changing all that much.

“Its a weight off my shoulders but Coach still has me working. I feel the same,” said the always tepid and seemingly permanently relaxed Wiggins. He handled the press conference in a completely opposite manner to his former college teammate antics:

The two franchise cornerstones of Minnesota and Philadelphia, now, hold the balance of their respective franchises. If either player does not meet the expectations of the deals that pay them as true stars they could potentially cripple their team’s future. Conversely, if expectations are met (or exceeded) both players are locked in throughout their primes and the future is bright.

Both players are risks. Despite the speculation that surrounds Wiggins and his often inefficient play, he is the safer option of the two. Much of this safety has been found in his ability to improve year-over-year but maybe more so in his ability to stay on the floor. Wiggins has played in 245 out of 246 games since the Wolves drafted him 2014. Conversely, Embiid (drafted in the same year) has played 31 total games.

The injury risk with Embiid is so large that the contract he signed is 35 pages long, filled with stipulations surrounding re-injury. Zach Lowe of ESPN described the deal as “perhaps the most complex” NBA contract ever.

With Wiggins, there are no such stipulations. The Wolves have assumed the risk of Wiggins never reaching the potential a $148 million contract suggests but top-to-bottom the organization believe this was the correct move.

“I feel like I have played well enough to earn it with my career in the NBA so far,” said Wiggins when asked about the contract and high expectations it comes with. Though he did concede there is “so much more to do” on his end. He mentioned taking the team to the playoffs as an expectation.

At the press conference, Coach Tom Thibodeau was not as quick to set specific team expectations following the contract extension nor did he want to imply that this deal has any exact goals for Wiggins beyond his continued focus on hard work. Thibs was more process oriented (pardon the pun) when discussing the deal.

“This process we felt good about,” said Thibodeau as he described the seamless nature of the contract negotiation from ownership, to management, to Wiggins himself. There was a unanimous commitment to a long future with Wiggins.

The saga is finally over and Thibodeau put the summation best: “We can put [the contract] in the drawer and now lock into the basketball part of it. Not getting lost in anything but chasing excellence.”