TORONTO – Jaden McDaniels celebrated his new five-year contract extension — by going to Olive Garden.
That's how McDaniels spent some of his time after agreeing to the deal Monday. How many breadsticks did McDaniels have?
"Shoot, the whole basket they gave us."
McDaniels, who was out for Wednesday's season opener in Toronto because of a left calf injury, lost count of the number of breadsticks. He also couldn't put his head around how much bread he will be making in coming years on a contract worked out by President of Basketball Operations Tim Connelly that's worth up to $136 million.
"I was just super excited and just happy that it was able to get done," McDaniels said. "I just thank Tim and all the owners for the opportunity and believing in me. It's a life-changing thing. It's hit me, but it hasn't hit me all the way yet. I'm just excited to be able to stay here longer and continue to play as a Timberwolf."
The Wolves got the deal done just hours before a Monday deadline would have pushed contract talks into next offseason. Despite the anxiety of that time, McDaniels said his agent Nima Namakian told him to be patient and "play the waiting game."
"He told me it always heats up the last two or three days," McDaniels said. "… I didn't know the numbers, I just knew we were getting closer and closer."
About that number — the Wolves and McDaniels agreed to a contract similar to the one Spurs forward Devin Vassell signed earlier this month.
"It's a huge number, as big a number as I've ever seen," McDaniels said.
Vassell's deal played a big role in forming the market for McDaniels, who is a strong defensive presence and capable offensive player, or what's known as a "three and D" type of player.
McDaniels said he looks to see what others around the league are making but that didn't weigh on his mind as talks were ongoing.
The deal cemented McDaniels as a significant part of the Wolves' future. He and Anthony Edwards entered in the same 2020 draft class, and Edwards signed his own five-year deal in July. Center Naz Reid, one of McDaniels' best friends, is signed for two years with a player option for a third.
"I'm just excited to see that for him. He's like my right hand," Reid said. "Just excited for him to even be in the position. … It's a once-in-a-lifetime dream. Not too many people get that opportunity."
Added McDaniels: "Just being able to watch them two grow, all three of us grow together and us being able to be together for years on … I feel like, shoot, this year and the next two years I feel like we can be a good NBA team, compete for championships, deep playoff runs. It's good to have those two."
McDaniels said he never allowed himself to think about a contract like this when he entered the league. As he put it, he was "just kind of hooping." Now he has his sights on earning a Defensive Player of the Year award, he said.
"It means a lot," McDaniels said. "Since I've been drafted, I know how good I am and how talented I am and just knowing that at some time, that I'm going to be able to get a next contract."