Grade the Deal: Mike Conley Jr. re-ups for two more seasons in Minnesota

Jan 20, 2024; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves guard Mike Conley (10)
Jan 20, 2024; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves guard Mike Conley (10) / Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Timberwolves currently rank atop the Western Conference with a 39-16 record. The Wolves employ the league's best defense and one of the most efficient offenses.

Although the Timberwolves roster two All-Stars, a less-heralded and perpetually underrated player has been key in jumpstarting the ascension to a continuing squad. That player is 36-year-old Mike Conley Jr.

The veteran's averages don't stand out per se, yet his contributions are invaluable to the Wolves roster. This season, he averages just 10.6 points per game. But, he does average 6.4 assists per game and ranks second in the NBA in assist-to-turnover ratio. He's also shooting a blistering 44.2 percent from beyond the arc.

In games without the veteran point guard, the Wolves own a losing record. In Conley Jr.'s 50 appearances, he's made a huge difference for Minnesota despite his average statistics. The 36-year-old ranks third on the team in net rating, plus-minus, and win shares.

Taking into consideration Conley Jr.'s impressive contributions, the front office returned the favor by extending the veteran guard for an additional two seasons in Minnesota. According to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, Conley Jr. re-upped for two more years and $21 million.

Conley Jr. was playing out the last season of the three-year pact he signed in the summer of 2021. That August, Conley Jr. agreed to a deal worth up to $72 million. While the pay cut is steep, future salary cap restrictions, his age, and the new CBA led to the team-friendly deal.

At a mere $10.5 million per season, Conley Jr.'s average annual contract value would place him outside the top 30 highest-earning point guards in the NBA. He'd slot in at 32nd, tied with Los Angeles Lakers point guard Gabe Vincent and just ahead of San Antonio Spurs' Tre Jones.

The $10-11 million range is fantastic value for a starting position of any kind in today's NBA. In the 2023-24 season, the average NBA player makes $9.7 million. All the better, Conley Jr. is far superior to the average player.

Although he'll be signed through his age-38 season, shelling out a tad more than $10 million to the near-40-year-old isn't detrimental to the Wolves roster. Conley Jr.'s game isn't and has never been predicated on athleticism.

He's an uber-efficient marksman with a penchant for playmaking. The former Utah Jazz guard has also built rock-solid connections with big men Karl-Anthony Towns and Rudy Gobert. Of Conley Jr.'s 6.4 assists per contest, 3.0 are divvied between the aforementioned bigs.

This season, Conley Jr.'s assists to Towns rank in the top 10 of all duos while his dimes to Gobert rank in the top 45 of all pairings. His chemistry goes beyond the starting bigs. The veteran floor general is a calming presence in the Timberwolves locker room.

Since Minnesota acquired Conley Jr. at last year's trade deadline, the Wolves have won 66.2 percent of their games, going 49-25 over that span. As evidenced by his team and individual contributions, signing the veteran to a multi-year extension is a home run.

Signing Mike Conley Jr. to a two-year extension at a fantastic value is an excellent move. Considering future salary cap constraints, retaining an key cog in the rotation on a team-friendly deal does wonders for both the present and the future . . Minnesota Timberwolves Grade. Grade. A