Free Agency: Still No Deal For Pekovic?

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — The Minnesota Timberwolves have made their position clear. They want restricted free-agent center Nikola Pekovic wearing “Wolves” across his chest for years to come. And they are willing to pay handsomely to make that happen.

It’s that price, however, that is holding up the process.

While the Timberwolves have reportedly slotted Pekovic for a deal in the four-year, $48 million range, the 7-footer’s agent, Jeff Schwartz, is reportedly looking for something in the $15 million a year range, according to 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

That’s a significant gap and one that will require some adept maneuvering from Timberwolves’ boss Flip Saunders, who not only has to work with Schwartz on a deal for Pekovic but also has to keep in mind that they’ll do this dance again when Kevin Love is in the midst of free-agent negotiations before the 2015-16 season. Love can opt out of his current deal then and become a free agent.

It’s a delicate balance for Saunders, crafting a roster capable of competing for a playoff spot now while also maintaining flexibility and fiscal responsibility for the future. It’s a balance that wasn’t managed well by his predecessor, David Kahn. In fact, these sorts of offseason hiccups were supposed to be history in Minneapolis, along with Kahn.

And make no mistake, this is a management issue. Pekovic’s camp has every right to push for the max. In a league where a talented big man always has value even if there is little production to warrant it (Andrew Bynum and Greg Oden come to mind), Schwartz knows that he’s working from high ground with a player like Pekovic.

He averaged 16.8 points and 8.8 rebounds and was a consistent inside force for the team while Love was out of the mix for all but 18 games with an injury.

What the Timberwolves have to guard against is allowing this situation with Pekovic to put them in any sort of compromising position down the road with Love, who will indeed command max money of his own if and when he does opt out of his current deal. Love and Ricky Rubio are the current and future cornerstones of the playoff outfit Saunders is trying to build, and that has to be on the minds of everyone within the franchise as they move forward.

Outbidding themselves for Pekovic wouldn’t make a ton of sense at this juncture. But any damage done to the relationship with Schwartz right now could have lasting ramifications down the road, potentially producing consequences the Timberwolves absolutely cannot afford if they are serious about turning their playoff fortunes around.


  1. gregory a prentiss says:

    i love the nba so many overpaid players whats one more

  2. B Radd says:

    Surprised the Clippers haven’t picked up on this yet after the beating they took from the Grizzlies last season. DeAndre needs a backup against Marc Gasol next time they meet. Gasol will get stronger and with Zbo, they’re just plain scary!

  3. John Williams says:

    His asking for too much money

    • ac says:

      I agree. He’s really good, but I think his stats were inflated due to the fact that everybody was injured last year.

  4. dredd5150 says:

    Jeff Schwartz is a greedy idiot.

  5. Gorka says:

    Pekovic is not worth 15M/year. End of story. I agree with the one that said that he is often late for defensive help. Trade him for Aldridge now if those rumours are true. Or even for Pau Gasol if he is available.

    • qqdq says:

      And why would portland wanna trade aldridge for pekovic?

      • Gorka says:

        They surely dont want him to leave:) But if rumours that Aldridge wants out of Portland are true, I could see them being interested in the trade. After all, Pekovic is the most decent free agent available at this point.

  6. Chiraq says:

    I’m still trying to figure out where has Pekovic even put up 12 mil a year numbers let alone 15 mil a year. He is a good player no doubt but I do agree that his defense is non existent. If you are going to ask for a max contract I feel you need to be an all around player not just offensive. Greed with some of these players have become an issue in sports especially when you are not even worth it. So Pekovic is asking for Kevin Love type money but hasn’t even put up Kevin Love type points or even rebounds. In the illustrious words of Cris Carter “C’mon Man”

  7. J says:

    stay in Minnesota

  8. yolo says:

    Pekovic is a good player, but I dont think he is worth more than 48 million, thats a good price for him.

  9. Rob says:

    Pek is a stud. He is the heart of the team. A huge heart. Hmmmm…I don’t want to lose him. We need him at the right price…so we can resign the other guys in the future. Saunders better not cave. Be strong and smart little man and bring back Nikola…we need him.

  10. westriot says:

    The next Jim McIlvaine…

  11. burug says:

    go to the lakers 😀

  12. factmanz says:

    not enough american, not enough black maybe. pekovic will never have the respect he deserves so he asks a lot. and he is right

  13. Ziden says:

    Eye relee dont dink dat minnesota kneads a center a knee more. Dey all ready have a good center currently on der roster, so dey wood knot really knead him any more, rite?

  14. Unkle Daddy says:

    I think Pekovic needs to set down by himself and look at what that extra money could cost him. If he takes the extra money and the wolves lose Love, there goes your team basically, so now your on a non-playoff team with all your money. He also needs to look at the fact that nobody was willing to sign him away from the wolves on a big contract this off season. I think I made my point.

  15. wink says:

    we need pekovic he comliments love very much so give him five years at 13.5 per year but 12 would be what he deserves so may-be we can get another star here k. love will stay unless lakers come a calling just sign him now worry about love later he will demand top dollar after insult by kahn four years so we can get Rubio for 5 years may-be love is more important than Rubio he is fun to watch Rubio will be good but worried about injury to him as time goes on

  16. rubio says:

    they should play with k love center and d williams pf cause or to make some rade for d williams if he is on the bench
    he play best with rubio, more than pek

  17. someperson says:

    The guy’s good but he costs too much money. there are other decent big men on the team, especially now with the draft of Dieng who could turn out to be pretty good. chris johnson can play center as well and he did great last year. they also have turiaf now. obviously none are as good as pek, but it’s better to save the money and spend it on something else in the future.

  18. Dennis says:

    Yep I’m surprised he hasn’t signed with any team yet, probably it’s the money he’s asking. But seriously, how many better centers than Peko are today in the NBA? There is Howard, there is Bynum if healty, there is M. Gasol, there’s Lopez, but I can’t think of any one better than him. He may not deserve 15 mil a year, but when you compare him to what’s in the NBA in his position now, he has a right to ask for that money. Plus with Rubio, Love and him the Timberwolves remind me of my Panathinaikos team when he played here. Excellent, impossible to defend against it pick n’ roll with Rubio and Peko (aka Diamantidis/Jasikevicius with Pekovic), and Love dominating the post and shoot threes (aka Fotsis). We miss you Nikola!

    • Dennis says:

      *any one other better than him

      • Jimbo says:

        …Al Jefferson, Anthony Davis- will be, Tiago Splitter is up there, Bogut, Asik is close, . Not mention all the others Rudeboy has listed. Really he is no top tier center, maybe a second tier. He shouldn’t be asking for top tier Money!

    • rudeboy says:

      noah, cousins, hibbert, and vucevic are also better than him. hes not even worth 12 million a year yet alone 15 a year

  19. dksla says:

    This is not about the money.
    Pekovic wants out of a looser team.
    He wouldn’t be asking for 15 if there isn’t a team willing to pay 12 or more,
    and has championship ambitions.
    What about LA?

  20. Josh says:

    He should be worth about 1.5 million more than his last contract, he has improved a lot and he can lead this team to their first postseason since the Kevin Garnett era, along with help from G RIcky Rubio and F Kevin Love.

  21. BigBoy says:

    for 15mil they need to let him walk and take a chance on Dwill. dude can ball with lebron-type athleticism. speed and quickness for a 6’8 SF/PF. is slowly working on his 3 point shot as well. they need to do a sign-and-trade for a good 6’11 or 7’0 center that doesnt demand that much money. they need 1 because dwill and klove arent gonna run at both big man spots both being only 6’8.

  22. lee says:

    i dont think he is even worth what there offering he can score and rebound but he cant defend at all at thats what the need most so i dont see this being a good place for him the need a big man who can rebound and play defend scoring is good but the dont need it the have kevin love and kevin martin who will be doing that for them i dont see love leaving the t wolves but you never know i think thats the only reason the havent traded d williams yet who put up fair stats when love was out

  23. i’m really surprized by this…pekovic is a really underrated Center in the league….sure he doesnt have the presence that andrew bynum and dwight howard has…but he really can deliver…he can give you points and rebounds at a nightly basis…hope he re-signs with the wolves…their gonna be a much stronger team!!

    • ko0kie says:

      he is very strong, rolls hard to the basket and is a good finisher but he is not the big men defender you want to have in your team.. he’s often late and not very reliable on help defense

    • Van says:

      You can’t ask for so much money if you cannot average double figures in rebound. He should be happy making 12 mill year and helping out his team keep Love and Rubio around.

      • Dieter says:

        12m or 15m c’mon it’s both alot of money, just take the 12m… that’s even more than Steph Curry’s contract ! It’s ridiculous that players who are not top 3 in their position dare to ask for a near max contract. 15m is more than 1/4th of the salary cap, no team would spend that on Pekovic… he’s a good player but he ain’t a top 30 player in the league.