Josh Okogie and the Minnesota Timberwolves didn’t come to an extension agreement ahead of Monday’s deadline for rookies from the 2018 NBA Draft class to reach a deal. There was never much noise around a potential agreement, either.
The guard said there was no disappointment at the lack of a deal. He’s stated his desire to play in Minnesota for the foreseeable future. For some players and teams in certain situations, waiting to strike a deal just makes sense.
So Okogie will play his fourth NBA season before entering restricted free agency next offseason.
That makes the 2021-22 campaign Okogie’s biggest to date — a contract is on the line.
“I’m always going to try and play as hard as I can, but obviously this year is probably the most …” Okogie stopped himself. “Every year is going to be the most important year for me — but since this is like the most current year, it’s the most important.”
Okogie got the start in the team’s season opener Wednesday against the Rockets. Timberwolves head coach Chris Finch has lauded Okogie’s play throughout the preseason.
“Well, you know what he brings defensively. That’s been only accentuated with Patrick (Beverley) and Taurean (Prince) out there, too,” Finch said. “He doesn’t feel like he has to be on an island guarding all the time. So that’s one. Two, he’s playing with the most offensive confidence I’ve seen him play. Taking really good shots in the rhythm of our offense, knocking ’em down, playing off the catch, creating shots for others when he drives to the paint. That type of stuff. Yeah, he’s had a great summer. We saw him all summer.
“Whether it be with his national team. He was here a lot. When he was playing early on, he was really playing with a lot of confidence, and it carried right through camp.”
Okogie was left open on the perimeter by various teams last season. He’s hoping opponents try that strategy again this season after his offseason of work.
“I wish they let me shoot this year,” he said.
Seven of the Timberwolves’ first eight games this season are at Target Center.
The first three — Wednesday’s game against Houston followed by consecutive games against New Orleans — are against expected Western Conference cellar dwellers.
It’s imperative that Minnesota get off to a hot start.
“I think it’s healthy to know where we want to be by the time these home games have passed by. I think it’s healthy. I’ve been around long enough to know now that,” Karl-Anthony Towns said. “I’ve also been where you take it game by game, I’ve done it all different ways. I think it’s healthy to, for me at least, to have expectations for ourselves in the first eight games and come out and with a lot of energy.”
Finch joins food bank
Local food bank Second Harvest Heartland announced this week that Finch would be joining the organization’s board. Finch said he was “really excited” by the opportunity.
“It’s such a big presence here,” he said. “I think it’s the second-largest food bank in the United States doing amazing work at a time of such great need.”
Finch attended college with Allison O’Toole, the CEO of Second Harvest Heartland. The two were friends, though it was through the Timberwolves that Finch connected with the food bank.
“Really, really excited to grow some synergy between the organizations and also just do my part here in the community,” he said. “It was important for me to do something that had reach to everybody, and was kind of non-partisan. Everyone needs help, everyone wants to eat.”