MINNEAPOLIS — The Minnesota Timberwolves are bringing back reserve forward Taurean Prince, who became a vital part of the second unit in his first season with the club.
Prince and the Timberwolves have agreed to a two-year, $16 million contract extension, according to a person with knowledge of the deal.
The person spoke Wednesday to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the team has not yet announced the extension, which will keep the 6-foot-7 Prince off the market when NBA free agent and trade negotiations formally open Thursday night.
Acquired last summer from Cleveland in a trade for popular point guard Ricky Rubio, Prince warmed up to coach Chris Finch's system after a slow start and shot a career-best 45.4% from the floor in his sixth season in the league. His shooting rate inside the 3-point line was also a career high at 56.5%, giving Finch the ability to play Prince at either forward spot depending on the size of the lineup.
Prince was drafted with the 12th overall pick out of Baylor and landed in Atlanta to start his NBA career in 2016. Since then, he's been traded three times in the last three years — to Brooklyn, Cleveland and Minnesota. He started 200 of the 260 games he played in over his first four seasons, but since then has only 18 starts in 110 games.
Finding a fit with the Timberwolves was far more important than a few extra minutes on the floor, Prince has said.
“The camaraderie of the group,” Prince said during the playoffs when asked about why he wanted to stay. “Everybody that’s here, you've got 10, pretty much 15 guys that are on the same page at all times whether on the court or off the court. Hanging out and stuff. You don’t get that. I really haven’t felt that since college. That’s a big step.”
Prince was the only one among Minnesota's top 11 players in terms of usage last season who was eligible for free agency, so this is not expected to be a particularly active summer for the Timberwolves. The top priority is keeping their cornerstone in place with an extension for center Karl-Anthony Towns.
Still, new president of basketball operations Tim Connelly has proven to be an aggressive roster manager. With point guard D'Angelo Russell entering the final year of his current contract with a salary cap hit of more than $31 million, he's a candidate to be moved to allow for the addition of more complementary pieces to Towns and star guard Anthony Edwards.
Late Wednesday, the Timberwolves exercised team options on two other key backups, guard Jaylen Nowell and center Naz Reid.