Just after Monday’s practice ended and hours before an 11 p.m. deadline, Tom Thibodeau, president of basketball operations and head coach of the Wolves, was asked about the possibility of signing Gorgui Dieng or Shabazz Muhammad to a contract extension.
“I’m always hopeful,” he said.
With good reason. The Wolves and Dieng agreed to a contract extension, the team announced later, that an NBA source said is for four years and $64 million. The Wolves had until Tuesday night to extend Dieng and Muhammad or allow them to become free agents next summer.
Dieng was drafted with the 21st overall pick in the 2013 draft by Utah, which then traded him and Muhammad (drafted 14th) to the Wolves for the rights to Trey Burke, whom the Wolves had taken at No. 9.
The power forward contributed from the start, averaging 4.8 points in 60 games his rookie season. The following year those numbers rose to 9.7 points and 8.3 rebounds. By last season his midrange shot made him a threat alongside center Karl-Anthony Towns, one of the bigger big-man combos in the NBA. Dieng started 39 of 82 games, averaging 10.1 points and 7.1 rebounds.
In two games this season Dieng has started and averaged 13.0 points and 13.5 rebounds, posting a double-double in both games.
In an era of ballooning NBA salary caps, the deal seems reasonable for both sides, similar to the one the Lakers reached with center Timofey Mozgov during free agency last summer.
Sacramento center DeMarcus Cousins was fined $25,000 and assessed a technical foul for throwing his mouthpiece and entering the stands late in the fourth quarter of the Kings’ victory over Minnesota on Saturday.