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Wiggins: 'There's no rush' on $148 million deal with Wolves

Andrew Wiggins is nearing a five-year contract extension that will be worth the NBA maximum $148 million, but hasn't signed the deal yet as the Timberwolves open training camp.

"Just want to make sure, take my time -- there's no rush," the fourth-year guard said Friday as the team gathered at their practice facility before flying to San Diego to begin practices on Saturday.

Wiggins, entering the final season of his rookie deal, will be the highest paid athlete in Minnesota history.

"Usually when you have two sides that want to get it done, it gets done. I don't think it will change him," coach Tom Thibodeau said.

"That's what hard work does," Wiggins said. "I've been working my whole life for this contract.

"I've missed one game in three years. I'm not too worried about getting injured."

Thibodeau said he was happy with the improvements the Timberwolves made over the summer, including the blockbuster deal that brought All-Star Jimmy Butler over from the Bulls.

"A lot of what we were doing wasn't tough enough," Thibodeau said when asked about the team's propensity for blowing large leads, "so we wanted to change that."

"Defense is where we suffered [last year]. We need to make that commitment."

He clearly anticipates the Wolves making the postseason, saying "You have to have a great dislike for losing."

Butler, who had a large introductory press conference at the Mall of America following his draft-night acquisition, said the Wolves will commit to being a strong defensive team.

"If you want to guard, you can guard," said Butler (above). "What Thibs wants is to limit your man to a long contested two, as he would say."

The Wolves will train in San Diego for a week to prepare for a week-long trip to China while Target Center renovation is completed.

Karl-Anthony Towns is also hoping for an improved season, a year after just failing to make the All-NBA team.

Towns (above) said he expects to play more off his instincts on defense as he did in college at Kentucky. Towns, noted as a strong 3-point shooter, said he's added something to his game that everyone will have to see once the season starts.

"I made a promise to Flip Saunders that I would win and end the playoff drought and I intend to do that," Towns said, referring to the late Wolves coach and GM.

The Wolves' new point guard, Jeff Teague, has been in town for about a month and is aware that departed Ricky Rubio was a fan favorite.

"I hear that every day, seriously," Teague (above) said of Rubio, who was traded to Utah for a first-round pick in 2017.

Teague said he was "more aggressive" than Rubio, and also talked about the importance of distributing the ball among Wiggins, Butler and Towns.

On the playoffs, Teague said, "Why not? I know everyone in the locker room wants to make that step."

Teague signed as a free agent for three years and $57 million.

Veteran forward Taj Gibson, who signed as a free agent, is quite familiar with Thibodeau, playing for him in Chicago. He said the transition has been smooth in Minnesota, adding Thibodeau's attention to details are "on the money."

"It was like I never left. I just jumped right back into things," said Gibson (above).

New Wolf Jamal Crawford has been to China three times in the past six seasons, and said the trip helped teams he played on with bonding.

Crawford, 37, was signed in July after playing every game for the Clippers last season. He has won the NBA Sixth Man Award three times. The 6-5 guard averages 15.3 points and 3.5 assists over his career, which started after he was the eight pick in the 2000 draft by Cleveland after playing one season at Michigan. He is fifth all-time in the NBA in three pointers.

Crawford's secret to NBA success and longevity? Giving up Capri Sun and eating at Whole Foods a lot, he said. Crawford says he still remembers when he went to China with the Clippers and Grant Hill helped him buy a suit in the market for $87.

Thibodeau was enthusiastic with the recent free agent signings of Shabazz Muhammad (who has spent his entire career in Minnesota) and Aaron Brooks, who joined Thursday.

"It's critical. ... We felt fortunate we were able to get [Shabazz] back," Thibodeau said, adding he likes Brooks' versatility and wanted to get an experienced veteran.

"I've been talking to coach throughout the whole summer ... I just wanted to be part of something special," Muhammad said after choosing to turn down the Lakers and Bucks, among others.

Brooks and Thibodeau were together with the Chicago Bulls in 2014-15.

"He requires a lot. Some people can't take it," said Brooks (above). The 32-year-old played 65 games for Indiana last season, averaging 5.0 points and 1.9 assists and shooting .375 from three-point range. He has also played for Houston, Phoenix, Sacramento, Denver and Chicago after being taken 26th overall by the Rockets in 2007.

The Brooks signing could affect the playing time at the point for Tyus Jones, but Jones said he has always had to prove himself. Jones played in 60 games as a backup to Rubio.

Jones (above) said he'd play any role coaches want for him. But he hopes to get more playing time and feels more confident going into Year 3.

Gorgui Dieng played all 82 games for the Wolves last season, and also played for the national team of Senegal in the summer, and admitted he's a bit tired.

"I'll rest when I'm old," he joked.

Nemanja Bjelica, who had surgery to repair a broken bone in his left foot in March, said he's almost ready to return full-bore.  Bejelica (above) said he should be OK at the start of the regular season Oct. 18 at San Antonio.

Justin Patton, who was taken with the 16th overall pick in the June draft, is recovering from surgery to repair a broken bone in his left foot.  Patton (above) said there is no set timetable for his return.

Patton, a center from Creighton, was acquired along with Butler from the Bulls for Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn and the draft rights to Lauri Markkanen (seventh overall) in the summer Wolves blockbuster.

Patton said he'd be willing to play for the Wolves' G League team in Des Moines if necessary, and was upbeat about his rehab so far. "When people say there's a Minnesota Nice, it's actually true," he laughed.

Veteran center Cole Aldrich was pumped about the big summer deal.

"We got better," said the Bloomington native.

Wiggins, 22, fired his agent, Bill Duffy, and said he didn't know if he would have another agent. Wiggins said he's added weight and focused this summer on what he didn't do last season: Rebounding.

Wiggins will be in the final season of his four-year, $24.8 million deal he signed after being the first choice in the 2014 NBA draft out of Kansas by Cleveland. He was traded later that summer to the Wolves in the Kevin Love deal.

The 6-foot-8, 199-pounder started all 82 games last season, averaging 23.6 points and 2.3 assists per game. He scored 1,933 points, fourth most in a season in franchise history, and led the league in total minutes played (3,048).

Note: Blog photos by Marcus Fuller @Marcus_R_Fuller.  Marcus Fuller and Michael Rand contributed to this report, which was compiled by Chris Miller.

Cunningham chooses Pelicans over Timberwolves

Veteran free agent and former Timberwolves forward Dante Cunningham has agreed to re-sign with New Orleans, according to a report by the Vertical this afternoon.

The Wolves had aggressively pursued and have been waiting for a decision that finally came today.

They now likely will turn their attention to players such as Gerald Green and Thomas Robinson for the wing or frontcourt and C.J. Watson, Aaron Brooks or Kirk Hinrich (who didn't play last season) as a backup point guard.

Cunningman played the last three seasons in New Orleans and had found a place there in the Pelicans' rotation.  The Pelicans signed him to a one-year, $2.3 million deal, the Vertical reported.

His re-signing follows the Pelicans' signing of free agent Tony Allen last week as well.

Cunningham's choice leaves the Wolves with three open roster spots, although they'll probably fill only two before training camp opens Saturday in San Diego.

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