La Velle's 3-2 Pitch: Three observations and two predictions on Sundays.

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The easy part is over for Ant.

Anthony Edwards this week agreed to a five-year, $217 million contract extension with the Timberwolves. It will grow to $260 million if he makes an All-NBA team next season, which would make him the second-highest-paid player in the league in terms of contract value behind Denver's MVP center Nikola Jokic.

Extending Edwards was the biggest no-brainer on the local scene since the Wild locked up Kirill Kaprizov before the start of last season. And I'll take bets that the Vikings' Justin Jefferson soon becomes the next local player age 25 or younger to sign a long-term deal.

Now comes the hard part for Edwards: making it a worthwhile investment. Edwards can do that in two ways.

One, he continues his development and becomes one of the elite players in the game.

Two, he makes the Wolves a threat to win a championship. That's asking a lot of the young man, but there's a title drought going on around here.

Edwards was the first overall pick in the 2020 draft, but the website the Ringer, using FiveThirtyEight data, shows that Edwards is just fifth in career WAR among his draft class. Among the young stars ahead of him are Tyrese Haliburton, Desmond Bane and LaMelo Ball. Haliburton, Bane and Ball have landed extensions like Edwards.

There's evidence that Edwards should move up that list. He has improved in nearly every offensive statistic after each of his first two seasons. The lone dip was in two-point field-goal percentage this past season, and it was minuscule. And Edwards, with plenty of upside as he's about to turn 22, has the drive to succeed. His role as an occasional playmaker in 2022-23 will be mitigated some by the presence of true point guard Mike Conley. But if Edwards hits more big shots to win games, one of his stated goals, we'll take that trade-off.

As for leading the Wolves, let's officially pass the face-of-the-franchise tag from Karl-Anthony Towns to Edwards.

The Wolves haven't reached the promised land when writing nine-figure checks to their players. Kevin Garnett's $126 million extension in 2001 made him the highest-paid player in American pro sports. He also signed a $100 million extension in 2003. The Wolves reached the conference finals once during his first 12 seasons here. Andrew Wiggins signed a $148 million deal in 2017 and fell short of expectations. Towns signed a $190 million deal in 2018. The Wolves haven't gotten out of the first round with him.

Edwards can end this unfulfilling run by becoming one of the best in the league — and, more importantly, by winning.

WNBA change needed

WNBA stars Napheesa Collier of the Lynx and Breanna Stewart of the Liberty are establishing an offseason league in the United States for WNBA players. It's in reaction to the league's new prioritization rule.

Many WNBA players compete overseas during the offseason, where salaries are substantially higher. But the schedules can overlap in May, forcing some WNBA players to report late to camps or miss the start of the season. This year, players with at least three years of experience had to return to their WNBA teams in time for the regular season or be suspended for the season. Next year, they will have to report by the start of training camp or miss the year.

Here's a suggestion for the league: Just start your season later! The WNBA is going to lose good players who choose seven-figure salaries in Europe over $250,000 in the U.S.

Scouting family

Deron Johnson, the Twins senior scouting adviser, hoped to get a photo with Baltimore's Aaron Hicks this weekend when the Orioles were in town. In 2008, Hicks was Johnson's first pick after being named Twins scouting director. Since then, Johnson's drafts yielded Brian Dozier, Eddie Rosario, Byron Buxton, José Berríos and others. His final draft as director in 2016 could end up being his best: Jose Miranda, Griffin Jax, Alex Kirilloff, Matt Wallner and the departed Brent Rooker, an All-Star for the A's.

Johnson has something else to be proud of. His son, Deron Jr., a linebacker who played for Eddie George at Tennessee State, was recently hired as a scouting intern for the Chicago Bears. Like father, like son, the Johnson family is building a scouting legacy. But why did his son get involved in football and not baseball?

"He never played baseball in his life." Deron Sr. joked. "I blame my wife. She never played catch with him when I was gone."


Rey back

Despite being home in Argentina at the start of the season and missing 15 games, Emanuel Reynoso will reach double digits in goals and lead Minnesota United in scoring.

Rolling into the break

The Twins will take advantage of a terrible Oakland pitching staff, hold their own against Seattle and go 5-2 on their first road trip following the All-Star break.