The Minnesota Timberwolves are reshaping their roster into what could be a playoff bound team next season. In the offseason, the team added Chase Budinger, Greg Stiemsma, Andrei Kirilenko, Brandon Roy, and Alexey Shved to a roster with Kevin Love, Ricky Rubio and Derrick Williams. But if you think Minnesota is simply looking at next season, think again.
GM David Kahn is looking towards the future and in particular, center Nikola Pekovic.
Kahn is fully aware of Minnesota's financial status and is preparing to offer Pekovic a payday if he duplicates his breakout season.
After signing Roy, Stiemsma and Alexey Shved, Kahn said the Wolves are $400,000-ish under the salary cap. He said the only way to add player(s) now is to sign them for the league minimum or trade a current salary or salaries to clear room.
He said the Wolves’ spending this summer still leaves them positioned to re-sign Nikola Pekovic to a big contract. They can exceed the salary cap to sign him either this fall or next summer.
“If he has the kind of season he had last season and given the size of some of the contracts some of the other centers have gotten, we need to be prepared for it,” Kahn said.
As Kahn mentioned, Pekovic had a great season. He averaged 13.9 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 56% shooting. A far cry from his averages in his rookie season where he averaged 5.5 points and 3 rebounds.
Moreover, big men in the NBA is a commodity. It's not uncommon for team to throw big money at big men just because, they're big. As long as they can clog the middle and play some defense, well, that's good enough for any team. As they say, "You can't teach height."
But Pekovic isn't just a big body. He showed he can be effective on both ends of the court and what team wouldn't want that their team.
But kudos to Kahn. He has not the best reps for being a smart GM, so to see him making a move like this to secure Pekovic is sure to put a smile on Minnesota fans.
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@Pants80 It was a Rotoworld player news update. I saw it yesterday as well.
Which references this article.
I wonder what kind of kahntract the Peksecutioner will get? Hopefully not too much... his success in the NBA is a pretty small sample size so far.
I'd be fine with like $36-$40 million over 4 years.
@CollegeWolf The problem with the dollar amount is that Lopez and Hibbert just got paid.
Check this link out. It compares Lopez's last healthy season (in 10-11 and Hibbert/Pekovic's 11-12 seasons).
And neither of those guys are better than Pek. Someone, likely Paul Allen, is offering Pek a max deal. The Wolves better be prepared to offer Pek that money or someone else will force them to match.
@Nate Hughart Oh, and Brooke Lopez blows balls.
@Nate Hughart @CollegeWolf Zach Randolph probably. Amare. Maybe Duncan and KG still. Guys like Brand, Boozer, and Horford? All of those guys have a far longer track record. Pek is right there with most of them if not better, but he's had 3/4 of a short season playing at that high of a level. Tough to call him "the best" low post scorer. For half of last season he may have been that. I'm optimistic, but Pek's track record is shorter. Let's wait until teams have had a chance to plan for him to see how well he does under more normal conditions.
@Nate Hughart True. Also, the Wolves haven't been paying the tax in the past (nor will they this year)... so there really isn't anything to worry about for us.
@CollegeWolf The Wolves aren't that close to the tax really. Not when you factor in the likelihood of the tax possibly going up to 75 million (especially if revenue holds steady from this season to next).
But that of course means the luxury tax is going up to 75 million, and nothing is ever a guarantee in life.
@Nate Hughart Indeed, sir. Luckily the Wolves don't have to worry about the Luxury Tax.... yet.
@CollegeWolf Yeah that's a good point on Ricky. The fact that Pek was injured at much of the same time as Ricky was kind of masked that point last year.
I, too, will be interested to see how Pek starts the year. That could be one basis on how teams look at Pek's season to see how much money he is worth. Especially with the new luxury tax rules kicking in next season.
@Nate Hughart True especially about with Love. However, it was really Ricky that brought Pek along. All the Pek 'n Rolls and dump off passes for easy baskets. True, he has skills and can score on his own, but Ricky was amazing for Pek last year. So yeah, it will be interesting to see how he does this year... especially at the start coming off his surgery and potentially without Ricky running things at PG.
@CollegeWolf Howard and Bynum are fair. I don't necessarily agree (especially Howard) in terms of post impact, but Bynum has some good moves. Not as good as Pek, but that's just my opinion.
Aldridge is not in Pek's status in terms of low post play. Or least not from what I've seen. (Better player definitely. In the block? No.) I've never been a fan of Al Jefferson's game, but while Al J has the post moves, I don't think Al is better than Nikola in terms of efficiency (a much higher TS% last season for Pek among other things) and getting to the FT line especially.
I think what makes Nikola Pekovic so valuable to the Wolves is that his game fits so well with Kevin Love's minus the defensive aspect. It's hard to complain about Pekovic's status unless he badly regresses this season.
@Nate Hughart Definitely Bynum and Howard. Scola and Gortat. Aldridge? Al Jefferson is a great low-post scorer as well. And there are others.
@CollegeWolf Okay, who is better than Pek in terms of low post scoring? I ask out of curiosity because I really can't think of who I'd rather have at this point in time. Bynum maybe? Howard if you're talking total package possibly?
@Nate Hughart Fair enough, to each their own. Can't really go wrong with Pek or Hibbert imo. Pek's defense is only average at best and he doesn't block shots. I don't see him getting any better defensively either. And I am not sure he's the best low post player in the NBA. That seems a bit much, and I watch damn near every TWolves game!
@CollegeWolf LOL @ Brooke Lopez. Yeah he isn't that gravy.
I do think Pek is the best of the three because he has a premium skill (or three really) that helps teams win. But Hibbert and Pek's value are pretty close when it comes down to things. I'm not the biggest fan of Hibbert's, but a part of that is because I don't think Hibbert is good enough rebounding to really be considered an elite player. HIs defense is certainly there, and so is the passing/shooting.
Nikola Pekovic is arguably the best low post player in the NBA at the moment. Plus he is a monster Offensive Rebounder (needs to get better on the D boards though), and gets to the line at a ridiculous rate.
The only question is if Pek can stay healthy, but that's always true of any player isn't it?
@Nate Hughart You think Pek is the best of the 3, even with the small sample size? I love Pek, but I also love Hibbert a lot too. I'd trade Pek for Hibbert, since Hibbert is a better defender and younger. Scared about a max deal though... not entirely sure he's worth that much. At least we have next season to find out.
Just thought someone should point this out.
The Wolves can't resign Pekovic until next summer due to the fact that you can't extend a player with less than 3 years of service time, and Pekovic's contract expires next summer. By then, the Wolves will have Pek's full bird Rights. But nothing can be done about Pek's contract until next summer no matter what the Wolves intentions are.