The biggest contract yet to be signed in this NBA offseason is between the Minnesota Timberwolves and Nikola Pekovic, who remains an unsigned restricted free agent, although it seems the team is confident things will be resolved for the better very soon.
Pekovic, following his best season so far in his NBA career, averaging 16.3 points and 8.8 rebounds per game, is looking for a four-year, $60 million deal from the Timberwolves. Minnesota aren’t willing to give him more than $12 million a season, and they’re pretty confident that there will be no need to fall back to the qualifying offer (a bit more than $6 million next season) that will eventually make Pekovic a free agent in 2014.
We’re moving in a positive direction. I still believe he wants to be here. I believe we are the best situation for him. He has had some success here. Success is not guaranteed in this league. … I’m confident we’ll have a meeting of the minds.
Flip Saunders knows that with Pekovic the Timberwolves are playoff contenders, but he also knows that teams will shy away from the Montenegrin big man because of his injury issues, missing 20 games last season, 19 games in 2011-2012 and 17 games during his rookie year. Like Saunders said, he is probably in the best situation he’s probably going to be in if he stays with the Timberwolves, playing with Kevin Love in the frontcourt.
Pekovic thinks he can get the same kind of value next season, but considering how big of a risk injury he is, even another season like this last one (16-8 numbers) might not help him become a close to maximum player if he once again misses around 20 games. Big guys get big deals each season in the league, as its rare to find a center who can make it work on both ends of the floor and put up these kind of numbers in today’s NBA, but Pekovic isn’t going to get the kind of deal he’s dreaming, which is reserved to players with better numbers, and a better health record.