MINNEAPOLIS -- The Minnesota Timberwolves have locked up another potential member of their young core, while maintaining valuable financial flexibility.
Minnesota has agreed to a four-year deal with second-round draft pick Jaylen Nowell, a source confirmed to the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Twin Cities TV station KSTP was the first to report the agreement.
The 6-foot-4 combo guard is guaranteed $1.4 million in the first year of the deal, a hefty number for a second-round pick. Nicolas Claxton, the first pick of the second round — taken 12 spots ahead of Nowell — signed a three-year deal with Brooklyn in July that guarantees him just south of $900,000 this season, per Spotrac. But all three years of Claxton’s three-year, $4.2 million deal with Brooklyn are guaranteed. The final three years of Nowell’s deal are all team options.
That one guaranteed year plus three team options is the same structure as the deal Minnesota signed undrafted free agent Naz Reid to last month. Both Nowell and Reid were signed with the mid-level exception.
That type of flexibility and long-term commitment is important to the Wolves. It allows the team to invest in its young players, putting time and resources into their development while having the potential to get good value on the back end of the deals.
Nowell’s deal took some time to get done; not all, but most rookie deals are completed by the end of July. But Minnesota didn’t see a need to rush negotiations, and feels it struck a deal that’s positive for both sides. Nowell — the reigning Pac 12 Player of the Year out of Washington — gets good immediate value, and the Wolves have flexibility moving forward. These are the types of deals the Wolves feel allow them to build their roster from within and maintain roster continuity.
Nowell’s deal marks Minnesota’s 15th guaranteed contract for this season. But the Wolves still have space left in its mid-level exception, and plans to continue to look at potential deals in the time between now and training camp.
The Wolves could even potentially sign a 16th player to a guaranteed deal heading into camp to create further competition, having the financial flexibility to cut a player with guaranteed money before the start of the season.