The Timberwolves finally re-signed forward Nikola Pekovic after prolonged negotiations this offseason and a general lack of interest in the restricted free agent market. The Wolves apparently scared everyone off from making an offer to Pekovic with their threat to match.
What the Timberwolves did do is sign Pekovic to a five-year, $60 million. That is a hefty price and showed the extent of the lengths the Timberwolves were willing to go to retain Pekovic. Of course, there was always the danger that Pekovic would sign the qualifying offer and become an unrestricted free agent next summer. This signing avoids that.
Pekovic averaged 16.3 points and 5.1 rebounds per game last year for the Timberwolves, manning the center spot with Kevin Love often sidelined. When Love is in the lineup with him, they form a pretty nasty one-two punch in the post.
Retaining Pek was our No. 1 priority this offseason and we're very excited that he's chosen to continue his career in Minnesota. Thanks to a lot of hard work and determination, Pek has developed into one of the NBA's premier centers and is entering the prime of his career. We envision Pek and Kevin Love being the `Bruise Brothers' and forming one of the best front courts in the NBA for a long time to come.
The question is whether Pekovic is truly a $60 million man. Five years is the max a team with a player's Bird Rights can give and Pekovic is being paid handsomely in addition to that.
This is certainly at the very least an insurance policy for the Wolves to solidify their front court should Kevin Love choose to leave in free agency after the 2015 season.
Pekovic though still has to prove himself as more than a one-hit wonder. While it is difficult to find centers in the NBA these days, the new reality of the NBA does not allow teams to overspend by too much. The Wolves will not flirt with the luxury tax line this year and will not flirt with it in 2015 either. For "The Summer of Love," the Timberwolves only have $24.1 million committed.
Financially, Minnesota should still be in good position.
That is if Pekovic continues his seeming upward trend.
Other centers getting paid around $12 million per year include Al Horford ($12 million), Kevin Garnett ($12.4 million), Nene ($13 million), Joakim Noah ($11.1 million) and Serge Ibaka ($12.35 million). Do your own comparison to figure out if Pekovic compares to them. In some areas he certainly does, in others he doesn't.
This is no bargain, but it also seems like it might be the right price for what Pekovic could become for the Timberwolves. They are obviously placing a lot of faith in him to begin with.
The delay in the negotiations prevented Pekovic from committing to Eurobasket so he should be fresh to make good on his new deal.