Timberwolves won 1st Jaden McDaniels wager. Will they win double or nothing?

Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports /

The Minnesota Timberwolves are more than just an NBA team trying to earn a third consecutive berth in the NBA Playoffs. This is more than a team trying to improve upon a record of 42-40.  This is a team that is very much committed to winning an NBA Championship.

There is drama within the drama and little gambles in a bigger gamble. When the Timberwolves were heavily engaged in trade talks last season, McDaniels’ name was one of the first names that potential trade partners named as a player of great interest.

Even as the Minnesota Timberwolves took such a huge gamble on Jazz center Rudy Gobert, the team placed another wager on another player as well.  The wager was placed when the Minnesota Timberwolves refused to consider any trade packages for All-Star center Rudy Gobert that included a young but promising small forward Jaden McDaniels.

Double or . . . nothing?!

Forward Jaden McDaniels is still with the Timberwolves. No doubt, by design. Other trade inquiries were made about the availability of McDaniels throughout the 2022-23 NBA season. But the Timberwolves were adamant about keeping him. And that was a wager that the Wolves clearly won.

Still, the Timberwolves are not out of the woods in the least. Right now, the Minnesota Timberwolves front office is taking an even bigger wager that they can successfully negotiate a contract extension that will keep McDaniels on the Timberwolves roster.  That is certainly a top priority right now.

So what is the holdup?

The Price is Right

Valuation of what may come to pass is a far cry more challenging than valuing what has come to pass. Like the popular daytime television game show, the Minnesota Timberwolves are trying to guess the fair market value of Jaden McDaniels over the length of his next contract without going over.

And that is a problem.

McDaniels is not just an NBA defensive standout. His ability to put points on the scoreboard is rapidly improving as well.  The challenge with all of that is that he made a horrible decision to punch a stone block wall during the final game of the 2022-23 NBA season, injuring himself, and taking himself out of action for all postseason games.

So the Minnesota Timberwolves never had the opportunity to see how well he would hold up against stiffer competition.

We know that McDaniels is on track for eventual honors by being named to the NBA All-Defense Team. We also know that next to shooting guard Anthony Edwards, Jaden McDaniels is the most important young player on the current Minnesota Timberwolves roster.

And that means that the Timberwolves front office will likely pull out all stops to keep McDaniels on the Timberwolves roster, just as the team had done in extending young big Naz Reid. The gamble is, can the Timberwolves meet Jaden McDaniels’ asking price?

If they can, then the decision to keep him pans out and the Timberwolves have a very competitive young core group of basketball players who can carry the team for many years to come. If the team cannot extend McDaniels, then the Wolves simply carried him for more time, but will end up with nothing to show for it.

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