The Minnesota Timberwolves replenished their vibe count Sunday by agreeing with fan favorite Naz Reid to a three-year, $42 million extension before his impending unrestricted free agency this summer.
Timberwolves center Naz Reid has agreed on a new three-year, $42 million deal with a player option, his agents Sean Kennedy and Jeff Schwartz of @excelbasketball tell ESPN. Undrafted out of LSU, Reid had his best season with 11.5 points and 4.9 rebounds. pic.twitter.com/YtBjdggxMa— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 25, 2023
Anthony Edwards and Jaden McDaniels approve of the Naz Reid extension. pic.twitter.com/5CA6qUPlKq— Kyle Theige (@KyleTheige) June 25, 2023
Though the word around Wolves camp was that both parties wanted to extend the relationship, no guarantees are locked in usually until that bell rings at 6 PM Central Time on June 30. Reid’s breakout 2022-23 season in lieu of Karl-Anthony Towns’ absence proved his exponentially growing talent in the front-court would be an asset to many around the NBA. Teams with lots of salary cap space such as the Indiana Pacers, Sacramento Kings and Utah Jazz were speculated to be in the hunt for his services. President of Basketball Operations Tim Connelly and the Minnesota front office wanted to entertain no such song and dance for the 23-year-old combo big man.
Reid’s new deal includes a player option for the third year. With the trajectory he seems to be on as a player, it makes sense — if his role isn’t what he’d prefer by the end of 2024-25, he can hit free agency and probably be on track for another longer-term deal at a similar average annual value in the $14-18 million range. How this contract shakes out in structure year-to-year will be interesting to find out in the coming days.
If the first year of the deal is around the $13 million number for this upcoming season, the Wolves will have around $5.85 million to work with under the luxury tax, per Dane Moore. The main priority now, as far as the team’s own free agents go, would be to bring back Nickeil Alexander-Walker.
Many will gawk at how much money the team has wrapped up in the center position next year as the reworked CBA looms. Rudy Gobert, Towns and Reid combine for a lot of real estate between the lines and on the spreadsheets. I’m not too worried at this point. Naz’s flexibility to get things done at the power forward spot was an underrated aspect to Towns’ late return in the regular season last year. That’s an incredible three-man rotation of big men to work with, assuming full health for all. Worst case, one of those three players would be tradeable and fetch a solid return if things don’t work out.
Another move Connelly and company could make to free up some more space above the cap is sending out or waiving Taurean Prince in the next few days. His $7.4 million cap figure for 2023-24 is non-guaranteed before June 28. Letting him walk (or trading him to a team that might eventually waive him) makes a lot of sense if the front office feels it can find a wing upgrade somewhere else, or net a backup point guard in a swap for him. The chances of TP being on the roster for next season just got muddier with the announcement of the Naz Reid extension agreement. Keep in mind that the Wolves have until the last day of the regular season next season to get below the luxury tax line.
All in all, Reid’s return highlights a couple of important points for multiple members of the front office and for himself. First, Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations Sachin Gupta’s brilliance in this can’t be overlooked. The four-year, $6 million contract Naz signed in 2019 became one of the best definitions of low-risk, high-reward you’ll find in the league, and it should be credited to Gupta. Jaylen Nowell also received this contract structure back in the day, which locks in the player to four years (team option in the fourth) at a very cheap and team-friendly salary.
Connelly deserves love here too. It’s been noted that management has been in discussions with Reid’s representation for months negotiating this contract. TC doing the legwork early to make sure the franchise’s feelings are known about how much they wanted Naz back can make a big difference. I imagine there’s a soft spot for the team that takes a chance on you as an undrafted free agent and then develops you as a player into a key contributor for a playoff team. Connelly has been vocal since the end of the season about bringing Reid back.
I ran into Naz Reid at the airport a couple months ago and asking about his free agency he said, "let me ask you, what will fans think if I leave?" -- seeming legit torn about the idea of letting them down.— Dane Moore (@DaneMooreNBA) June 25, 2023
Money was always going to be the biggest factor. But he wants to be here
Lastly — Naz Reid, man. What an amazing route to get to this spot for him. He was seen as out of shape and a bit of a risk coming out of LSU at 19 years old, then vigorously transformed his body to match his incredible skills with the basketball in his hands. Naz is a real weapon and he was going to make a ton of money from one of many other interested teams this summer if he decided to go that route. His teammates love him. His coaches love him. Timberwolves fans love him. And he’s back.