Timberwolves decision over McDaniels’ extension could shake the NBA’s future

Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports /

The Minnesota Timberwolves know that their young small forward Jaden McDaniels is one of the best defenders in the NBA right now. That is why the Minnesota Timberwolves organization created a webpage specifically to tout just how impressive his defense is. After all, it’s not just about what a player can do on the basketball court. It’s also about who recognizes those accomplishments in real-time.

While the Minnesota Timberwolves lobbied hard for Jaden McDaniels, it was simply not to be.

The fact is that Jaden McDaniels is an elite NBA defender, and he is rapidly improving his offense too. Still, he does not possess the type of NBA reputation that general managers naturally think about when they contemplate the best defenders in professional basketball.

Defender of the faith

But you can be certain that the top scorers in the league know just how good Jaden McDaniels can be on defense:

The Minnesota Timberwolves will not allow McDaniels to escape via the 2024 NBA Free Agency market. That is just not something that will happen. But the Timberwolves have no way to truly set the best fair market value for McDaniels right now.  And so negotiations are complex and intricate.

The struggle right now for the Timberwolves front office may not be the cost of extending Jaden McDaniels. But it may simply come down to what a Jaden McDaniels contract may mean for the entire Minnesota Timberwolves roster. But will he be worth it? There is a growing consensus that the answer is a resounding yes.

The 2023-24 season is likely to be the best ever for Jaden McDaniels. Unlike past rosters where McDaneils was the token defender who was tasked with slowing down the opponents’ best scorers, the Timberwolves roster has a number of defenders who are all quite capable, and who will be able to multiply McDaniels’ defensive presence with smothering NBA defense.

But defense at the level that McDaniels provides comes at a price. Can the Timberwolves afford it?

McDaniel’s extension could define the Timberwolves future

After all, the Timberwolves have already invested heavily in All-Stars Rudy Gobert, Karl-Anthony Towns, and Anthony Edwards. The team also made it a point to invest in an extension for backup center/power forward Naz Reid. And if the Timberwolves commit to the salary that McDaniels is certainly deserving of playing for, that will overextend the Timberwolves in terms of future salary cap limitations.

And that will lower the trade value of everyone on the Timberwolves roster as NBA teams hover at the NBA Trade Deadline, ready to offer limited value for whomever the Timberwolves front office makes available.

If the Minnesota Timberwolves are going to make a move at the trade deadline, this team will want to disguise what that move will be until the last possible second. But if this team is to compete for an NBA Championship, how will the finances be sorted out? Most NBA experts and insiders agree that there is mounting pressure for the team to commit to paring down the roster salary commitments,  Those same insiders believe that the Timberwolves will be willing to field offers for one of their key players, perhaps Karl-Anthony Towns on or near the 2024 NBA Trade Deadline.

Whatever the Timberwolves do with Jaden McDaniels in the next 11 days or so could have significant implications for the team for years to come. What will the Wolves do?

Whatever the team decides to do could shake up the entire NBA for years to come.

Stay tuned.

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