The second best center on the free agent market appears to have finally locked up a new deal as the restricted free agent Nikola Pekovic is reportedly nearing an agreement with the Minnesota Timberwolves. Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski writes that Pekovic and the Timberwolves are "getting closer" on a four year deal in the $50 million range.
It is a little weird that Pekovic did not get a ton of interest from other teams over the last couple of weeks. Teams with salary cap space, Atlanta specifically, could have used him. He is an excellent two way player who averaged 16.3 points and 8.8 rebounds per game last year.
At the very least, teams could have offered Pekovic and massive offer sheet in hopes Minnesota would not match because of future salary cap concerns. They are not a big market teams, so they would have to think twice about giving Pekovic a big pay day since Kevin Love can opt out of his deal in two years and Ricky Rubio will be up for extension at the same time.
Instead, it appears the T'Wolves will get Pekovic, the perfect complement to Love up front, as a very fair price. The Timberwolves are also on the verge of adding Kevin Martin, re-signing Chase Budinger and are rumored to be after Corey Brewer as well.
Spurs out on Kirilenko as sign-and-trade falls through
While Pekovic is seemingly a lock to be returning to the Twin Cities, forward Andrei Kirilenko is well on his way out. Wojnarowski also reports that the Russian forward will not be back in Minnesota and he will not be headed to San Antonio either after sign-and-trade efforts failed to materialize.
There were possible combinations of Spurs assets that appealed to the T'wolves, but ultimately Minnesota was unable – or unwilling – to take back the contracts on what could have been an $8 million to $9 million annual salary agreement for Kirilenko, league sources said.
Kirilenko would have brought the front court versatility the Spurs craved, particularly on defense where they could have lined him up either behind Kawhi Leonard or in between Leonard and Tim Duncan. Now it is unclear where Kirilenko will land, especially if he is chasing a multi-year deal at $8 or $9 million a year. He may have to bite the bullet on a smaller deal for a year and look for a big pay day next year.