Marc Spears of ESPN’s The Undefeated reports that the Timberwolves and Gorgui Dieng are nearing an agreement on a 4-year, $64 Million contract extension, shortly before tonight’s deadline. While the deal has not been formally announced, additional reports have confirmed Spears’ version and there is no reason to question that this will be finalized shortly and announced by the team.
Piggybacking off of @MarcJSpearsESPN: wolves and Gorgui Dieng confident a deal gets done soon. Both sides want it to happen
— Jon Krawczynski (@JonKrawczynski) October 31, 2016
Told initial offer was slightly less than $50M. #Twolves moved up, & should get deal done. Wow! Same $$ as Mozgov/Mahinmi. Great for Wolves.
— Darren Wolfson (@DWolfsonKSTP) October 31, 2016
I have already noticed a range of reactions to this news on the Twitter Machine. Some are celebrating it, believing the price tag to be a bargain. Others (like myself) have mixed feelings, not entirely sure how Dieng fits best on this team (or in the league in general) but acknowledge that he’s a decent rotation big man and those cost a lot of money these days.
A while back, Patrick and I discussed the Gorgui Extension Issue in more detail, in terms of how it fits into the team’s cap situation. I don’t need to re-analyze it again, here. Everybody will have their own take, which is how these things usually work.
For now, there are three things to remember and/or take away from this news:
- Any discussion of Dieng’s “value” needs to acknowledge that he is not a free agent right now, and cannot become a free agent until next summer. By signing Dieng now, the Wolves assume all of the risk that he could get hurt before the time he would otherwise be a restricted free agent. The question isn’t, “What could Dieng command on the open market right now?” It is, “How much should the Wolves pay Dieng right now, when their fallback option is 2017 restricted free agency?”
- Cap space is one of Thibodeau’s three listed reasons for taking this job. By extending Dieng, the Wolves reduce their 2017 cap space by at least $14 Million. They should still have room to sign a good player, assuming a “good player” wants to come to Minnesota next summer. But if Thibs has ideas to reshape this roster in a meaningful way via free agency, he will probably need to clear some room. This can be done by successfully applying for a career-ending injury exclusion to the cap after waiving Pekovic. More dramatically, it could be done by trading away Ricky Rubio, as some national reporters have predicted will happen this season.
- Good for Gorgui. The Senegalese big man has developed a great reputation inside the Wolves community as a hard worker and popular teammate. When Flip drafted Karl-Anthony Towns and it seemed like Dieng’s minutes might get squeezed, nobody ever heard a complaint from him. When Sam Mitchell played Dieng over KAT down the stretch of some games early last season, KAT had nothing but good things to say about Dieng, who had obviously earned respect in the locker room. Gorgui has connections in this community — he can be seen behind the Gophers bench, supporting Richard Pitino, his friend from Louisville days — and this $64 Million extension will help Minnesota feel even more like home for him. Through last season, Gorgui’s career earnings were about $4.2 Million, a tiny fraction of what he now stands to make.
Assuming this deal gets finalized, I’m sure the Wolves will have an announcement on the way.