Timberwolves, Naz Reid beat free agency by agreeing to 3-year, $42 million deal

Published 5:25 pm Monday, June 26, 2023

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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Minnesota Timberwolves have kept center Naz Reid off the market by agreeing to terms on a three-year, $42 million contract that comes with a player option after two seasons.

The deal, which was struck Sunday night, was confirmed Monday by Reid’s agents, Sean Kennedy and Jeff Schwartz of Excel Sports Management.

Reid was eligible to become an unrestricted free agent this weekend following a breakout year on both ends of the court for the Timberwolves, who already have made major investments in big men Rudy Gobert and Karl-Anthony Towns yet still valued Reid’s upside enough to make him a well-paid backup.

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“When we struggled early, he was one of the guys that played well,” coach Chris Finch said after the season ended. “He made the system work with his decision-making, whether he played the ‘4’ or the backup ‘5’ or started. Then when KAT came back, he naturally settled in as a key bench player. He was playing at a high, high level. He just proved he can play in all these different roles, which is valuable, then obviously just a perfect system fit.”

Undrafted out of LSU in 2019, the 6-foot-9 Reid has become one of the most popular players inside and outside the team for his steady development, even-keeled demeanor and ferocious dunks. He averaged 11.5 points and shot 53.7% from the floor in 68 games in 2022-23, both career bests.

When Towns missed 52 games with a strained calf, Reid proved his value while his status in the rotation was elevated. In four games when his playing time topped 30 minutes, Reid averaged 27 points and 11 rebounds. After he suffered a broken left wrist during the final week of the regular season, Reid was clearly missed in Minnesota’s first-round playoff series loss to eventual NBA champion Denver.

The Timberwolves had his Bird Rights and thus were able to pay him more than any other team could have offered in free agency when the NBA’s negotiating period opens on Friday night, but consistent playing time was Reid’s highest priority.

“I just want to be put in the best fit,” he told reporters last week. “Obviously money plays a part, but I definitely want to be able to develop in a situation where I’m used to the best of my abilities.”

The Timberwolves also drafted 6-foot-10 project Leonard Miller in the second round (33rd overall pick) of the NBA draft last week. The 19-year-old from Toronto averaged 16.9 points and 10.1 rebounds in 38 games last season for his G League Ignite team.

Timberwolves president of basketball operations Tim Connelly said Monday at an introductory news conference for Miller that he envisions him being able to play both forward spots as well as center.

“I know he can guard three positions,” Connelly said, “and then offensively we’ll let coach Finch determine where he can best be employed.”