Earlier this afternoon, Timberwolves Team President Flip Saunders announced via Twitter that the ‘Wolves had reached an agreement on a new contract with their Montenegrin center, Nikola Pekovic. Marc Stein of ESPN tweets that the contract looks to be in the vicinity of $60 Million spread out over five years.
#wolvesnation. We have agreed to terms with Pek.
— Flip Saunders (@Flip_Saunders) August 14, 2013
Pek was the last of the big name free agents in the summer of 2013. The restricted free agent had been heavily negotiating with the Timberwovlves and Saunders, who had reportedly offered the 27-year-old a four-year $48 million deal earlier in the summer. It appears that Pek and his agent Jeff Schwartz, agreed to the same annual rate as the earlier offer, but with an extra year tacked on. Stein also adds, via Twitter, that Pekovic can earn up to $8 million more over the course of the contract in incentive-laden bonuses. Additionally, Darren Wolfson of ESPN1500.com tweets that all five years of the deal are guaranteed.
Since Pek wasn’t coming off a rookie-scale contract as a first round pick, the five-year deal doesn’t take up the “designated player” tag, which Minnesota is saving for young Spanish point guard Ricky Rubio.
Pek posted career highs over the 2012-13 NBA season with the Timberwolves, averaging 16.3 points and 8.8 rebounds in 31.6 minutes of action. He also posted a Player Efficiency Rating (PER) of 20.2 while playing those increased minutes, and kept his true shooting percentage above 57 percent. The three-year player is projected to average near a double-double next season and could perform even better if given the minutes to produce without the law of diminishing returns taking affect. The 30 plus minutes he averaged last season with the increased production came despite the absence of all-star Kevin Love, which means he could play even better next year with Love healthy.
Many considered Pekovic one of the biggest names available this off-season, with Portland and Cleveland expected to extend him an offer sheet. But those offers never came with many GM’s believing the Timberwolves would match any offer for Pekovic, like they’ve said publicly since Pek became a restricted free agent in July.
The Montenegrin “Godfather” could see a lot of single-team coverage on the block during the 2013-14 season as teams look to guard the outside shooting of Minnesota’s summer acquisitions, Kevin Martin and Corey Brewer. The extra space from the additional shooting also might mean Pek reaches the numbers to receive the bonus incentives.
All told, this is a good day to be a Timberwolves fan. The team appears locked and loaded to make a run for a final spot after a Western Conference playoff battle that is shaping up to be one of the deepest in recent memory with multiple teams getting better over the off-season.
The Star-Tribune‘s Jerry Zgoda tweets that Pekovic is expected to fly to Minnesota tomorrow, with a press conference announcing the new contract coming on Friday.
What do you think of the deal?
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