The Minnesota Timberwolves and forward Jaden McDaniels have agreed on a five-year, $136 million extension, according to Shams Charania and Jon Krawcyznski of The Athletic.
Update as of 3:10 PM CT: ESPN’s Bobby Marks reports that there are $5 million in unlikely bonuses in McDaniels’ contract, bringing his average annual cap hit down from $27.2 million to $26.2 million over the course of the contract.
McDaniels is coming off an outstanding season, averaging a career-high 12.1 points on 51.7/39.8/73.6 shooting splits, 3.9 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 0.9 steals, and 1.0 blocks in 30.6 minutes per game across 79 contests. The Federal Way, Washington native also emerged as one of the league’s premier defenders behind excellent numbers shutting down stars on the ball while also flashing elite rim protection skills on the back side of a strong Timberwolves defense in the half-court.
An average of $26.2 million per year is a terrific mark for a Wolves team that is unquestionably going to be in the luxury tax beyond 2022-23 if they hope to keep their current four-man core of Anthony Edwards, Karl-Anthony Towns, Rudy Gobert, Naz Reid and McDaniels together moving forward. That figure projects to likely be north of $40 million beginning in 2024-25 if the team is over the second apron.
In agreeing to this significant rookie extension, Minnesota is committing to be a luxury tax team along with Anthony Edwards, Rudy Gobert and Karl-Anthony Towns. Wolves haven’t been a tax team in almost 20 years, and are staring at serious luxury tax payments moving forward. https://t.co/yEiPpK9rov— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) October 23, 2023
If that turns out to be true, that is a huge step for minority partners Marc Lore and Alex Rodriguez, who are set to complete their purchase for majority control of the franchise in early 2024.
The Timberwolves have one of the league’s top rosters and an extremely bright future with Edwards, Towns, Reid and McDaniels all under the age of 28, but only time will tell if the new ownership group is willing to pay to keep them together. Retaining McDaniels at a figure $30 million annually for a budding two-way star is an incredible first step to saving some big time money in luxury tax payments on the back end.
This move caps off an incredible 2023 calendar year for President of Basketball Operations Tim Connelly, who:
- Traded D’Angelo Russell for Mike Conley, Nickeil Alexander-Walker and multiple second-round picks
- Signed Anthony Edwards and Jaden McDaniels to five-year extensions
- Re-signed Naz Reid and Alexander-Walker
- Brought in Shake Milton and Troy Brown Jr. to fill in the cap slot left behind by Taurean Prince
- Traded up using second-round picks from the Russell deal to select Leonard Miller, who many experts thought would be a first-round pick, early in the second round and signed him to a four-year contract similar to those of Reid, Jaylen Nowell and Josh Minott in years past.
- Drafted Jaylen Clark (a consensus first-round pick before his achilles tear) late in second round and later signed him to a two-way contract
McDaniels is facing an uphill climb to play in the Wolves season opener against the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday due to a left calf strain. He has been doing “1 vs. 0” workouts, according to our friend Chris Hine of The Star Tribune. Here’s some video of McDaniels at practice on Monday:
A little snippet of the workouts Jaden McDaniels is doing post practice today. pic.twitter.com/7CmRcb55br— Chris Hine (@ChristopherHine) October 23, 2023
Deal is signed and Jaden McDaniels is back on the court.— Dane Moore (@DaneMooreNBA) October 23, 2023
McDaniels has been going through full court 5 on 0 drills for the last 10 minutes. pic.twitter.com/fQtbMVcxjJ
The Wolves’ defensive stopper initially suffered the injury during the team’s trip to Abu Dhabi earlier this month. 10 days ago, Krawczynski reported that McDaniels would be re-evaluated in a week-and-a-half and that he “got the sense” that McDaniels’ injury was not related to his ongoing contract negotiations. Certainly the Timberwolves will be cautious with their star, as they are not new to calf strains and will take the long view with McDaniels, who is pivotal to the team’s playoff prospects this season.