New contract, fewer minutes for Gorgui Dieng of Timberwolves

One year ago, Gorgui Dieng agreed to a four-year, $62.8 million contract extension with the Minnesota Timberwolves. He went on to start all 82 games last season and posted career-best numbers. He averaged 10 points and 8 rebounds in 32.4 minutes per game.

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Gorgui Dieng with his national team before AfroBasket 2017. (K. Maguire photo)

Now, however, he’s coming off the bench, just as the new contract kicks in. Through the first seven games of the 2017-18 season, the Senegalese big man has averaged just 13.6 minutes; the same as his 2013-14 rookie season.

Tom Thibodeau, the Wolves’ head coach and president of basketball operations, brought in Taj Gibson on a two-year, $28 million deal in the offseason.

Gibson has replaced Dieng in the starting lineup. Dieng, a 6-foot-11 power forward/center, is making the most of his minutes by averaging 5.4 points and 3.7 rebounds.

Still, will the Wolves want to continue paying $14 million this season __ and the salary escalates by $1 million each year __ for a bench player? The website Dunking With Wolves has outlined some trade scenarios.

Dieng’s contract makes him Senegal’s wealthiest basketball player.

DeSagana Diop earned about $40 million over 12 seasons in the NBA. The Cleveland Cavaliers selected him eighth overall in the 2001 NBA Draft. The 7-foot shot-blocker entered the draft directly from Oak Hill Academy.

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