The Minnesota Timberwolves on Thursday exercised the fourth-year options for guard Jaylen Nowell and center Naz Reid, according to The Athletic’s Jon Krawczynski.
Nowell, the 2018-19 Pac-12 Player of the Year at Washington, enters his fourth seasons with averages of 8.5 points on 44.6/34.5/81.1 shooting splits, 2.1 assists, 2.0 rebounds, and 0.6 stocks in 15.8 minutes per game across 119 career appearances.
Reid, who signed on with the Wolves as an undrafted free agent before earning a full-time roster spot at NBA Summer League in 2019, has played a bigger role thus far, holds career averages of 9.5 points on 49.0/34.4/72.3 shooting splits , 3.9 rebounds, 0.9 assists, and 1.4 stocks in 17.3 minutes per game in his 177 games played.
The contract options are identical for both players. They carry a non-guaranteed salary of $1,930,681, which will become fully guaranteed if the player is on the roster on January 10, 2023, and the player will enter unrestricted free agency next summer if there is no extension signed beforehand, per Spotrac.
Despite the identical outcomes today, Nowell and Reid have different outlooks moving forward.
Timberwolves Head Coach Chris Finch has gone out of his way to praise Nowell as a member of the team’s young core moving forward, despite just drafting a combo guard/wing hybrid in Wendell Moore Jr. at No. 26 jumpsuit.
“One of our goals this year is to increase his role.”
– Finch on Jaylen Nowell
“It’s up to us to provide the opportunity. We can’t stand in the way of his path [to improvement].”
— Jack Borman (@jrborman13) June 27, 2022
“He’s an x-factor, he’s a game-changer. I think everybody needs that. He has the ability to create his own basket, he has the ability to attack switching, he’s actually an underrated playmaker, his defense improved quite a bit from the year before,” Finch said yesterday about Nowell after the Wolves’ introductory press conference for their 2022 NBA draft class. “We’re trying to figure out how to get a role, a more consistent role, for him. And we want him to feel as a part of our young core as anybody else that’s here.”
There has been consistent, corresponding speculation this offseason about Malik Beasley’s role with the team moving forward, as well. Finch’s praise of Nowell further fueled the questions about Beasley.
Whether Beasley gets moved in order to free up a rotation spot and more consistent role for Nowell remains to be seen, but it certainly is a situation worth monitoring. But, if Beasley does get moved, it would make sense that the Timberwolves move to sign Nowell to a contract extension before he hits unrestricted free agency next summer.
Reid, on the other hand, just saw the Wolves take in the first round a bigger, more defensively prominent center that fits more of what the team needs moving forward. He has done an admirable job playing to the best of his ability in support of an All-NBA center in Karl-Anthony Towns, but is physically limited by his size at 6-foot-9. To his credit, Reid uses his 7-foot-3 wingspan well, but has a lower floor and lower ceiling than rookie center Walker Kessler given his measurements.
Kessler stands 7-foot-1 with a 7-foot-4 wingspan and is more physically imposing defensively. Finch has been adamant that they will bring on Kessler slowly.
“We’re not going to put too much pressure on them to be great right away. We want them to come in, adjust to the league, keep developing,” Finch said. “They all do things at the NBA level that we think translates to role players and complementary players and that’s the best way to get on the floor, grow your role and grow your career from there.”
Given the non-guaranteed nature of Reid’s contract, it is plausible that he may be a casualty of a roster crunch. The Wolves have been rumored to be interested in Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert, as well as Los Angeles Clippers backup center Isaiah Hartenstein. Bottom line, they have been interesting in adding another center with their mid-level exception or bi-annual exception despite drafting Kessler, which isn’t a good sign for Reid’s long-term future in Minnesota.
The 2022 NBA Free Agency moratorium begins tomorrow, Thursday June 30, at 5 PM CT, so we will gain further clarity soon enough on what the Wolves may look like come training camp.