Pekovic in it for the money

Benjamin Polk —  August 5, 2013 — 36 Comments

Lets talk about what constitutes breaking Timberwolves news in early August. Lou Amundson is still unsigned? Ok, not bad but I think we can probably do better than that. Money is the crux of Nikola Pekovic’s contract negotiation? Ok, let’s run with it. From Darren Wolfson of ESPN 1500:

But one central issue remains, according to sources: money. The Wolves are offering Pekovic a four-year, $48 million extension. [Pekovic’s agent Jeff] Schwartz wants more. In fact, at least initially, a lot more. One league source said his opening asking price was in the vicinity of $15 million/year.

This is actually less troubling than it seems. According to Wolfson, Schwarz is likely simply attempting to create bargaining leverage with which to negotiate an incentive package into the deal–most likely continent on Pekovic’s remaining healthy. As Wolfson points out, Pek’s only other option is to accept a $6 million one-year qualifying offer and then become a free agent after next season. But it makes no sense for an injury-prone big man entering his prime earning years to leave that much money on the table (unless, say, a Russian mafioso has delivered his mom a suitcase full of cash). ┬áIt’s remains a near-certainty that Pek will sign a deal by next month.

Benjamin Polk

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36 responses to Pekovic in it for the money

  1. I think its a stretch at 12m a year but doable. At 15 a year trade him. We cannot afford it he is not a superstar he is a good player who on a good team can provide rebounding, scoring and size. But 15m a year ? No thanks. Does Pek scream max player to anyone ? I don’t think so. If we give him 15m a year what’s left to sign rubio ? Or someone else to help the team ?

  2. Is it possible that Schwartz is using Love’s buyout as leverage with Pek? They do have the same agent. I don’t think 15 is Crazy for Pek, I consider him to be a top 5 center, and he works perfectly with Love.

  3. I think it’s almost certain that Schwartz is using Love’s buyout as leverage–whether that leverage is explicitly stated or not. I don’t think there’s much chance that the Wolves will go up to $15 million; that number seems like just a negotiating tactic on Schwartz’s part.

  4. That agent has no leverage. Love is not going to leave a good situation because his agent did not get the deal he wanted with Pek, in fact if Pek did get that $60 million it would hurt the team which affects Love’s desire to play for a winner. Our “big three” Love, Rubio, Pek. Will need the extra cash to get the peripheral players needed to compete with the Clips, Rockets, Thunder. and Grizzlies or the team is going to be stuck in that 6-8 seed quagmire that will have no chance to move past the first round. Plus they need to lock up Rubio long term or Love will be gone anyhow.

    Also when you factor in this:

    “In the end — probably sometime before Pekovic begins play with Montenegro in the EuroBasket championships in early September — a long-term deal is expected.

    The conditioning portion of Montenegro’s training camp began weeks ago. They ramp up their preparation next week. But until Pekovic signs with the Wolves, he won’t be there.”

    That will put pressure on the agent to get a deal done or Pek is not going to be able to join his national team.

    Flip talked about the “education process” that process includes Schwarz figuring out Flip is not Kahn and he won’t be bidding against himself.

  5. Pek lost all leverage when no one else wanted to pay his price. Stand firm flip we cannot afford long term to pay a 3rd or future 4th wheel 15m a year. If you envision a future lineup of Pek, Love, Brewer, Martin, Rubio. Pek is the 3rd wheel and if Williams steps up big this year pek may very well be your 5th best player you cannot pay your 5th best player 15m a year.

  6. 15 is high, but Centers get overpaid, always have always will. Last season everyone was talking about how the Center is a relic, then the playoffs came and Gasol, Duncan, and Hibbert destroyed teams. Centers will always own the post-season, and that is why you throw money at them.I would not be shocked to see the Wolves raise it to 14-15 to get him signed. I think if they do that they insist on a ton of injury language just in case.

  7. I would be shocked if they went 15 mil, unless it was heavy incentive laden with things like All Star appearances, games played per season, etc.. they still need to sign Rubio and they’re paying Martin, Brewer, Budinger high market value

  8. 15 would be too much as he would be making more then Love.

    Gasol, Hibbert, Lopez, Bogut, and Chandler all make over 14 (not to mention Okafor). I think he is equal to several of those and it prices him in the area.

  9. Sorry hes just not a 14m a year player. Show me he can stay healthy and contribute to a playoff team. Otherwise 8m a year not a penny more. If he doesn’t want it trade him. We CANNOT afford to overpay the 4th best player on the team. Do you know why the spurs sustained winning ? The guys took less money. Do you see Manu or Parker demanding a max contract ? no because they know they’re not max players.

  10. 8m? I am curious how you came up with that number? He is easily the 3rd best player on the team, he might even be 2nd. Pek is awesome, He has a soft touch, dominates the glass, and is a solid defender. I think that if they can get him to sign for the 12 they got a steal.

  11. If someone wants to pay Pek 14-15 million a year Good Luck to that team. He is not worth it regardless of what some other schlub is making. The offer of 12 was fair and financially sound, if you step up the offer with expected increased production AKA All Star appearance, 75+ games played per year. those types of things that maximize his value, sure I can see that but the guy missed games last year because he had a bleeping bruise. Tell that to the Bulls team that bandaged up their players with duct tape and bubble gum and sent them out on the floor for a playoff series.

  12. The market is set by the contracts of like players, whether or not we think he is worth it is not relevant. The fact is the Bulls, Pacers, Nets, and Warriors all played players of a similar skill that amount. The market has been set by previous contracts.

  13. Then why didn’t anyone offer him that amount? not a single team including the one he played for,

  14. And here’s another thought. yeah those guys were paid a lot of money, how many of those teams regret signing those deals?

  15. I came up with 8m a year because that would be my starting point. He can either take it or go see what teams will actually give him 14m a year because it WONT be any period no teams going to pay an unathletic C who is questionable on D 14m a year. He has value, but all the guys you mentioned are better all around players.

    2nd best player ? Love, Rubio, Martin top 3. I expect Derrick Williams to be #4 this year so Pek is #5. You DO NOT pay your 5th best player 14m a year. I wouldn’t pay my 5 best player 12m a year it is not a smart long term move.

  16. Furthermore if you give him 15m a year he is a 1-2 year rental before you trade him for nothing or PAY another team to take him. The contract is not sustainable if you want love, rubio long term + martin is signed already.

  17. Jordan, you have to look at the context in this situation. There is no market for Pekovic, so why pay him that if nobody trying to pursue him. Plus, while all big man get paid, it’s the ones who are elite post defenders who get max or near-max deals. Pekovic isn’t a shot blocker and moves slow when defending the rim. At least, with Gasol, Hibbert and to lesser extent, Chandler and Bogut, they were all elite post defenders on playoffs team, so it was critical in resigning them ever more so and Brook Lopez got a max because he owner is drunk with money. $12 million sound about right.

  18. Mark, he’s not going to get $8 million. The starting point was $10 and it was always conceived that he’d sign at $12 million, which I still think he’ll accept, he’s just hard pressing the Wolves management right now with Schwartz trying to use the last remaining leverage that he has. Plus, he’s there third best player, you’re expectations of Martin and Williams seem far fetched.

  19. I don’t think Pek is questionable on D, I think he is solid. He does not get a lot of blocks, but he is rarely out of position and contests shots in the paint, that is good defense. I agree 15m is too much, I am just saying it is not crazy with the way centers get paid.

    Martin is not the 3rd best, he might be the worst defending wing in the league, and that was before he started losing his speed. He is absolutely the most efficient scorer that we have though.

  20. The worst case scenario for the wolves is Pek accepting the qualifying offer, if that happens he is gone next year, and the year after that Love opts out. Then the team is starting over from square one.

  21. pek not worth 15 straight ok d, last year he could ave more than 8 reb per game. this year w/love back he wont get more, dwill wont get that much playing time, w/love back. dwill awful def. and he cant shoot 3’s very good he wont play sf not a rebounder . dwill had his chance for big min. last year and was only so so. dwill a big bust at 2 pick.

  22. If Pek takes the qualifying offer he makes 6 mill this year. the best he can hope for next is the 15 he was looking for that would take him until year three of that mythical 15 million per year contract before he starts to go past the break even point of turning down this years 12 million. then factor in he is five years out before he signs his next deal as opposed to 4 if he signs this year and how much does that end up costing him?

    If you think he or his agent have any leverage, think again.

  23. pek and dwill numbers will drop we have better back up centers and love, we are stronger at sf & sg scoring and w/brewer some d. pek & dwill had their chance to prove there worth, pek 16.3 – 8.8 w/.8 blocks per game (block 4th best on the team behind greg s.1.18, ak .97, Johnson .93) I call that so-so defense!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! he didn’t earn 15 m a year. dwill 12 – 5.5 w/ 24 min and no love = bust. martin & budinger can score, brewer & turiaf can play good def. we still have to see shved can shoot better. at pg Rubio we get a whole season, Berea his back up. and we need time to see what the rookies can do. and I think Johnson should get some time. picking up Cunningham ‘s option was stupid. Johnson better than Cunningham. dwill shouldn’t get many min.

  24. Rubio makes pek if he thinks his numbers would be as good without Rubio that’s a laugh
    if he had a shoot first point. pek would maybe make 6 mil. ,hes a off reb. and a ok scorer.
    he didn’t do much without Rubio on the court. and he is not from in the 4 qtr, most of his numbers comes in the first half.

  25. I say don’t up offer. tell him to take 6 mill an see what he can get in free agency and get dieng more min. so he can start next year. with the scores we should have we need a rebounder and more of a rim protecter.

  26. I am not sure how to respond to any of that dank.

  27. If you look at the list of NBA big men who currently have long term deals at $15 million+ per, they break down into two categories – established stars (Howard, Pau Gasol, Bosh, Z-Bo) and established stars who are now salary cap disasters (Amare, Boozer). All of them were established stars when they got their big deals. So while it is true that centers get overpaid, there is little empirical evidence that Pek will draw $15m a year interest from any team unless it is truly desperate. At $13-14 million you see names like Tyson Chandler, Roy Hibbert, Blake Griffin, Marc Gasol, Brook Lopez, Josh Smith, and LaMarcus Aldridge . . . does anyone really think Pek should make more than these guys? Bogut and David Lee are comparables I guess but Lee was a much more coveted free agent and Bogut is a better player than Pek when healthy (hindsight is always 20/20 . . .) The only guys in this price range who Pek is clearly superior to is Emeka Okafor and Nene, but I don’t think Flip is sitting around thinking “What I want to cut is a Nene or Okafor type deal”.

    $12 mil a year is a pretty generous place for him. Noah, Ibaka and Horford all make $12 million a year, I would rate them over Pek. In terms of overall value (not as type of player) I would probably rank Pek a little higher than Omer Asik and Tiago Splitter, both of whom are making around $9 mil per, although they have certain skill sets that make them probably equally as valuable to the right kind of team. $9-11 mil is the sweet spot for big men getting overpaid, you find guys like Biedrins, McGee, Jordan, Okur, Bargnani floating in that cash flotsam and jetsam.

    So to me $11-12 mil per is fair, anything above that is aspirational and at $15 mil a year the Wolves will regret it sooner rather than later. I mean, they can give it to him, it isn’t my money. But they will most likely regret it.

  28. It’s posts like Mac’s that make me want a “like” option on this blog.

  29. I agree he is not worth the 15, my point has been I would not be shocked to see it. He has a lot of leverage with the threat of Love leaving unless we win now. This team needs him to be a playoff contender, and would be even more valuable in the playoffs. I am hoping that he agrees to the 12 and we get our core locked in for a long time.

    Another Idea I really like is a 3 team sign and trade where we bring Asik over. I think Pek is a better player, but Asik can anchor a defense.

  30. Love won’t be leaving without the Wolves receiving something of value in return. Flip is not the pushover Kahn was. This agent is not Kevin Love’s maker. Love is more than capable of thinking for himself. Signing Pek to a fair deal is more beneficial to the team and Kevin Love than overpaying and being up against the cap where you can’t add or keep talent. Why you think Kevin Love is too stupid to figure this out for himself is beyond me.

    The agent has no leverage here. Pek signs the QO the Wolves work out a S&T next season and have more to spend on FA’s. Plus Pek has to produce on the floor this year or he doesn’t even sniff that 15 mill he now has to make or he loses money by not taking the 12 this year. it’s win win either way for the Wolves.

    Where exactly do you see this as leverage for the agent? It’s sign the deal for 12 or take the 1 year deal @6 and produce at a level that earns you the money you’re looking for next year. Pek assumes all the risk in scenario 2 with no guarantees he ever recoups the lost income.

    The agent just painted himself into a corner and he has to hope come training camp Flip throws him a bone and ups the offer by any amount or he has to explain to Pek why he just cost him a spot on his national team and received nothing in return.

  31. My belief that Love opts out comes from multiple quotes from him saying he is tired of losing. He has said several times he wants to win now. If he opts out there is no gaurentee that the wolves get soomething back for him. it is possible, but noway do the wolves get fairmarket for him in a sign and trade once he is unrestricted. And that assumes he just doesn’t do what Dwight did and leave.

    If Pek signs the QO they would have to trade him before the trade deadline or he is gone and there is nothing coming back for him.

    I think we all agree 12 is what is fair and what we would like, but to believe that there is no chance that he gets more is crazy. He has a lot of leverage, whether you choose to acknowledge it or not.

  32. I think dieng could play his 2nd year as a starter. all we need from him is what asik did last year10-10 – 2 block a gm. I figure we get 25-14 from love at least 10 pts from Rubio, Berea, shevd, 12-15
    from budinger, martin that’s about 90 from them and then brewer, turiaf, Muhammad, Johnson, Williams, ect….. 20-30 pts a game that will give us110-120 pts a gm. better def from dieng. love will stay and in 2 years sign Rubio to max is a must.

  33. just because pek doesn’t stay past 1 more year doesn’t mean were no a playoff team. last year we weren’t a playoff team because of all the injuries. we can will without pek. Rubio can make dieng good enough for us to be a playoff team. pek wasn’t any good before Rubio. Rubio sets up pek in great spots most of the time!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! you all are giving pek to much praise go look at pek’s stats before Rubio.

  34. in 2 years we might have to trade pek to resign love and Rubio again. and I want love, and Rubio way over pek.

  35. if we sign pek to QO we cant trade him after that is signed at all. that’s what articles were saying about Jennings, that as soon the QO they couldn’t trade him.

  36. I agree that in a hypothetical scenario where there was a bidding war in which irrational owners like James Dolan or terrible current and ex-GMs like Ernie Grunwald, Otis Smith or Isiah Thomas were involved, and Pek was an unrestricted free agent who didn’t need to be signed to an offer sheet, it is not inconceivable that he could get a deal for 4 years at $60 million. However, “there is precedent for really bad contracts for big men given the right number of clowns involved with cable magnate fortune to burn” is not a reason to overpay Pek, it is a reason not to. Think about big men who got outsized contracts because their teams were loathe to give up on such “assets” – Okafor, Jordan, Biedrins, McGee etc. Every single one of these teams regretted those signings. In the case of Okafor and Biedrins they had to give away picks just to dump their salaries. McGee will almost certainly be a salary dump soon. Jordan is barely serviceable but the Clippers (rather amazingly) can afford him because veterans will take pay cuts to play with CP3 and chase a ring with Doc. Is that happening with the Wolves whether or not they resign Pek? Who knows, but seems unlikely.

    Pek had nice numbers last year and he has a real skill set, but putting up 16 and 9 on an injury-ravaged bad team with very limited offensive options is very different from being a 16 and 9 guy on a 50 win team with a healthy Kevin Love and guys like Martin and Budinger on the perimeter. Derrick Williams has a make-or-break season coming up. Pek’s PER will still be good but his usage is going to go way down. On a good team, not the 2012-13 Wolves, Pek is a 14-7 third or fourth wheel and that player doesn’t sniff $15 million a year even from James Dolan or Paul Allen (from Isiah Thomas, quite possibly).

    Pek’s agent is saying Flip should buy in on Pek when he is probably at the maximum value he ever will have in his career and that Flip bid against himself for the dubious privilege of overpaying Pek by a lot so he can “lock him in”, even though history says almost without exception locking in average players to near-max contracts in an ill-calculated bid to “contend” is death for small market teams. That’s fine, he’s Pek’s agent and he is just doing his job. But Farnorth is right, Pek has no actual leverage. And no, I don’t think threatening to take the QO and walk just to spite the Wolves is “leverage” when both the agent and Pek know that there is a 50% chance next season will make him look like a slightly wealthy man’s Marcin Gortat, at which point $10 million a year will be a pipe dream.

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