The NBA’s free agency period is a few weeks old now, and very few top-tier player’s remain. But one, Nikola Pekovic, could have been offered close to max money by a number of teams with the cap room. Fortunately for Timberwolves management, who hold the rights to match any offer for their 6-11 Montenegrin center, nobody has extended an offer so far and the Timberwolves might get him on the cheap.
As Charley Walters of the Pioneer Press mentioned last week, teams just haven’t stepped up to make an offer for Pek, after Dwight Howard went to Houston.
Teams that reportedly were interested in acquiring unrestricted free-agent center Dwight Howard, who recently signed with Houston, should seem to have at least some interest in the 6-foot-11, 290-pound Pekovic, 27, who last season averaged 16.3 points and 8.8 rebounds.
Those teams would include the Lakers, Golden State, Dallas and Atlanta. But none has stepped forward with an offer for Pekovic, perhaps because it’s virtually understood that the Wolves intend to match any offer, as is their right.
Because nobody has stepped forward to make an offer for Pekovic’s services in an effort to over-extend the Timberwolves, they’ve stayed pat near a four-year $50 million contract, adds the Star-Tribune’s Jerry Zgoda.
According to Zgoda, the Timberwolves aren’t in a panic to get Pekovic signed, and neither is his agent, Jeff Schwartz, who also happens to represent Kevin Love, and earlier repped Al Jefferson during his 2007 contract negotiations with the Timberwolves’ front office.
Timberwolves owner, Glen Taylor, told Zgoda the Timberwolves are expected to reach an agreement for Pekovic some time in the coming week. Whether they decide to agree on a four-year $48 or $50 million deal, remains in the air, since other teams can still make an offer, which Minnesota says they would match. But Taylor, like a lot of team’s around the NBA, believes Pek will be back in Minneapolis next fall.
“My sense is, I think we both know he’s going to be playing for our team next year,” Taylor said. “I think we’re just dealing with an element time of here. I would tell you I’m very positive that he’ll play for our team. What we have left isn’t something that can’t be resolved. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of pressure on us or him to get it done. A meet has been set up in the future.
“I’m confident it’ll get done. I’ve been through so many of things. You say, `It’s just money, Glen.’ I think we’ll get it done. He’s an important part of our team. He wants to be back and we want him here.”
Taylor’s comments came last Thursday at the NBA’s Summer League in Las Vegas. The confidence also stems from the fact that no team has made an outrageous—think $45 million for 3 years—deal for the 27-year-old center who averaged 16.3 points and 8.8 rebounds in 31.6 minutes per game last season. Pek averaged those amounts despite the team missing their ostensible all-star, Kevin Love for most of the season, and point guard, Ricky Rubio, for the first month.