Minnesota Timberwolves re-sign Jordan McLaughlin to two-way contract

Jordan McLaughlin is back with the Minnesota Timberwolves? (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
Jordan McLaughlin is back with the Minnesota Timberwolves? (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images) /

The Minnesota Timberwolves have finally re-signed Jordan McLaughlin, inking him to another two-way contract.

The Minnesota Timberwolves have reportedly retained restricted free agent Jordan McLaughlin, and they still managed to keep a roster spot open.

McLaughlin, who played last season on a two-way contract as a rookie, was a victim to a tentative market and the crunch of a shortened offseason filled with uncertainty and was unable to find an offer sheet elsewhere.

The Wolves now have their third point guard, and if the preseason is any indication, they plan to give McLaughlin plenty more run than a typical “third point guard”.

Minnesota Timberwolves re-sign Jordan McLaughlin to two-way deal

Let’s get this out of the way: McLaughlin deserves to be a primary backup point guard somewhere. He was that good last February and March and earned the opportunity to make more money and play more minutes.

On the other hand, he really only broke out over the final 15 or so games of the 2019-20 campaign, and there is an argument to be made that he needs to prove his worth over an extended period of time.

Fortunately for the Wolves — and unfortunately for McLaughlin — the climate of the truncated NBA offseason meant that teams weren’t willing (or able) to take a leap with McLaughlin.

The Wolves traded for Ricky Rubio on draft night and suddenly had two starting-caliber point guards in Rubio and D’Angelo Russell. While it eliminated the absolute need to have McLaughlin, it was also an indication that the Wolves planned to play multiple point guards with some level of frequency this year.

Rubio is too good to only see the court for the 14 to 18 minutes per game that a typical backup to a dynamic scorer like Russell would play. And over the first two preseason games, the Wolves indeed started Russell and brought Rubio in behind him, only to bring Russell back and run with tandem point guards for stretches in both the first and second half.

In a regular-season game, foul trouble is more of a reality, and the Wolves needed someone besides Jarrett Culver or Anthony Edwards to hand the keys to if one or both of Rubio and Russell ended up needing to spend more time on the bench.

Then, in the third preseason game, Russell sat out due to a sore ankle. Without a point guard behind Rubio, the Wolves used Culver, Edwards, and Jaylen Nowell as de facto lead guards. It actually worked out fairly well, but that likely isn’t a long-term, sustainable solution.

Now, the Wolves have two point guards on two-way deals in McLaughlin and undrafted rookie Ashton Hagans. It’s important to note that McLaughlin can only spend 45 days (not games, days) with the Timberwolves, and the rest of the time will be relegated to G League duty.

One wonders if the Wolves may have tentative plans to convert McLaughlin to a full, standard NBA contract depending on how the year starts out. For instance, if Russell or Rubio were to sustain a longer-term injury, McLaughlin could immediately find himself on the active roster if the team opts to trade or waive someone else.

If nothing else, McLaughlin will enter restricted free agency again next offseason, when he’ll have a much better shot at earning a guaranteed NBA deal.

For the time being, the Wolves still have an open roster spot. It’s fair to assume that it’s earmarked for forward Ronda Hollis-Jefferson at this point, who has had a fantastic preseason and is a perfect fit for what Minnesota needs.

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Congrats to McLaughlin on the deal, and congrats to the Wolves for landing a bargain. Here’s hoping that J-Mac gets the chance to earn a much bigger deal come next offseason.