The addition of Kevin Martin to Ricky Rubio and Kevin Love has the Minnesota Timberwolves thinking about the playoffs once again, but that isn’t going to happen if Nikola Pekovic doesn’t play at the level that he did last year, or feel disgruntled about the contract he isn’t signing.
A restricted free agent, no team made an offer for Pekovic, because everyone was quite sure the Minnesota Timberwolves were going to match any offer sheet coming his way, but no one wanted to be the team to overpay him. Not in the summer of 2013, which isn’t as plentiful in free agent talent as the one coming in 12 months.
So the Timberwolves were quite confident a deal would get done, but we’re already in August, and still no contract has been signed. Pekovic, working with Jeff Schwartz, who is also the agent of Kevin Love and Brandon Jennings, wants $15 million a season, while the Timberwolves are offering a four-year deal worth around $50 million.
There is the option of making Pekovic their “designated player” with a five-year deal, which wouldn’t stop them from giving the same kind of five year deal to Rubio because Pekovic is not on the rookie scale. But Pekovic is known to be and often injured player, missing 20 games last year, 19 in 2011-2012 and 17 during his rookie season. Committing five years and $60 million to a player who might miss nearly a quarter of the season each time isn’t the smartest business decision in the world.
There’s also Kevin Love, who hasn’t been the poster child for happiness after not getting the five-year offer two years ago, not to mention being bitter about still not tasting playoff basketball since he entered the league, which he has brought multiple times over the last few years.
Even the agent, Schwart, is under some pressure. The Jennings situation was botched, as many consider him to be the biggest loser in terms of money of this offseason. The market just isn’t going the players’ way, especially for restricted free agents who think they deserve to be paid not far from a maximum deal.
There is the qualifying offer option, which is at $6 million a season and makes Pekovic an unrestricted free agent next year. But with his injury history, risking making 50% of what is being offered on the table doesn’t sound very smart, and simply re-signing with the Timberwolves after a season in which Pekovic averaged 16.2 points and 8.8 rebounds sounds like the best option to pursue.