A Missed Opportunity

On October 11th, 2017, Andrew Wiggins, signed his new max contract extension worth $148 million over the next five years. At that point in time, it was debatable whether or not Wiggins could ever reach the levels needed to be worth a max contract in today’s NBA. His physical tools, along with his attacking prowess, indicated that Wiggins had a very reasonable shot to turn into a two way superstar. Unfortunately, in the year following his new extension, Wiggins failed to live up to the expectations that were put upon him and now the Timberwolves have found themselves questioning their new max contract asset.

When Andrew Wiggins was drafted first overall in the 2014 NBA Draft, he found himself atop a highly talented group of players. Those same players are in line for their second professional contract this offseason, if they haven’t signed on already.

Wiggins, along with Joel Emiid, T.J. Warren, and Gary Harris are the few players from the 2014 class who are already locked up long term. But, skilled players like Jabari Parker, Aaron Gordon, Marcus Smart, Julius Randle, Zach LaVine, and Clint Capela will all hit restricted free agency because they couldn’t reach an agreement with their respective teams.

What makes this offseason so interesting, outside of the LeBron sweepstakes, is that there is such a limited amount of cap space out there for a majority of the league, but there is an abundance of players who can contribute to winning basketball games. Outside of the Los Angeles Lakers, Indiana Pacers, Atlanta Hawks, Philadelphia 76ers, and Dallas Mavericks, teams find themselves struggling to free up cap space to make meaningful offers to the free agents listed above.

This simple fact is what leaves Timberwolves fans wishing that their front office had let Wiggins hit the restricted free agent market as well. Had Scott Layden and Tom Thibodeau let Wiggins hit the restricted free agent market, they would still have the option to match any offer that Wiggins receives so there was essentially zero risk in letting this happen (Unless they didn’t think he was worth the max and some other team did). But frankly, after his poor season and with cap space hard to come by, it appears as if there wouldn’t have been much of a demand for Wiggins’ services from the rest of the NBA.

The only real suitors that could’ve made a meaningful offer to Wiggins were the Indiana Pacers, and the Atlanta Hawks. The Lakers are in for LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard, or Paul George. Wiggins wouldn’t really fit on the 76ers current squad. Then you have the Mavericks who are reported to be lining up for a run for Demarcus Cousins come July 1st.

The Timberwolves had a real and legitimate opportunity to secure Andrew Wiggins on a much more reasonable contract compared to what he has now. Had they let the 2017-18 season run it’s course with no extension in place, the Wolves would have ultimately realized that the market for Wiggins’ services just isn’t there. Layden and Thibodeau could have easily matched any offer from another team had they received one.

The Timberwolves had a fantastic advantage with the cap space crunch that the league is currently under, and they failed to take advantage of it. With Karl-Anthony Towns and Jimmy Butler contract extensions on the horizon, the Wolves front office is going to have to get creative in order to stay under the luxury tax line this season. A trade of Andrew Wiggins could very well be the answer, but unfortunately, any answer the Wolves come up with now will always be inferior to the option they had last October.

 

photo credit – Brad Rempel – USA TODAY Sports

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