Pekovic in it for the money redux

Benjamin Polk —  August 8, 2013 — 11 Comments

The conversation around Nikola Pekovic’s contract negotiations has been robust around here. That is a great thing. That said, I want to make a point about Big Pek’s production over the past two seasons and what effect playing with good players has/will have on that production.

It should first be noted that Pekovic is not a great defensive rebounder. This is a little strange to me since he is so incredibly strong; one would think that he would be able to hold perfect rebounding position on every shot. This is probably one area in which his lack of length and leaping ability really hamper his production. And as many people have pointed out, his defensive rebounding numbers were a bit lower when he played alongside Love two seasons ago. This makes sense because defensive rebounding is a zero sum game; if, like Love, you grab every single defensive board out there, there are going to be fewer to go around for your teammates. But Pekovic’s offensive rebounding numbers were actually higher two seasons ago. As a matter of fact, he was second in the league in offensive rebounding rate that year.  The fact that teams pay Love so much attention on the offensive glass means that Pek has more space to grab boards of his own. So I think you can expect his offensive rebounding numbers to go up playing with Love this season.

And, for what its worth, his usage rate was only slightly lower last season than two years ago, when Love was gobbling up offensive possessions like he was Bernard King. Of course, the Wolves did not have a volume perimeter scorer like Kevin Martin that year. But, if you ask me, the Rubio-Pek pick-and-roll is so effective and plays so well to both players’ strengths, that I don’t think you’ll see them stray too far from it.  What’s more, that pick-and-roll should be much more effective with shooters around to space the floor. Remember how clogged the lane became whenever Rubio would prepare to drive last season? That problem should be cleared up. Though his volume will probably drop, I think you’ll see Pekovic score more efficiently this season.

All of that said, what commenter Mac and others are saying is true: Pekovic’s agent truly has almost no leverage in this negotiation. Accepting the qualifying offer means sacrificing at least $6 million during Pek’s prime earning years. That’s money that, depending on his production and health, Pekovic may never recoup, even after he becomes an unrestricted free agent next year.

Benjamin Polk

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11 responses to Pekovic in it for the money redux

  1. If Pek is smart he will tell his agent to shut his mouth and accept this GENEROUS GEMEROUS offer before it’s gone. When you have no leverage with no other teams offers, why would you try to be pushy asking for more. Flip has been making very smart decision so far and I don’t think that he will turn around and be stupid now. The offer was very respectful to Pek that least he can do is be respectful and accept it when they could have and probably should of offered him much less like 8mil a year instead.

  2. Thanks Ben, maybe now folks will get it. I don’t know, I think I and others like Mac spelled it out pretty well. Without a bidding war there is no leverage, and without a huge year this year there will be no bidding war and you have to start from a $6 million hole and a $15 million annual contract to even break even after two years if you turn the offer on the table down and take the QO.

    I read in the Strib Pek really did not want to play for his national team. This all may be a ruse just to get out of playing those games. There will probably be a bone thrown in just before camp opens to make it look like it was worth the wait and all is good.

  3. Maybe it’s time for management to start reducing the number, say to 3 years / 10 million per. That ought to get a response, maybe even a new agent for Pek. Otherwise, let him play out his current contract and let’s see what happens. I like Pek, but he’s still just a piece of the pie.

  4. It looks like I am wrong on the leverage front, perhaps I am looking at it as a worst case scenario, and that put me in a bit of a panic so I completely mis-read where Pek stands with the leverage.

    I will say I never said Pek deserved 14-15, just that I did not think it was impossible for him to get, especcially in this league.

    The people who keep throwing 8 out there are crazy though.

  5. I am sorry, I meant to cede all points in that comment, there was no reason to add qualifiers after accepting the lack of leverage. I do not give up arguments easily even when I am not shrouded in the internets anonymity.

    Pek will most likely be accepting the 12(which is easily the best for both sides), and the Wolves can finally exit the lottery, which we all would enjoy. This is the most excited I have been for the T-wolves season in a long time.

  6. Actually Jordan, I think you’re right to point out that some Bryan Colangelo or Isiah Thomas-type might have thrown $15 million at Pek in restricted free agency, and still might if he hits the unrestricted market, either to screw the Wolves or just because they are bad at their jobs. Which is why it was wise for Flip to get out ahead of the game and make him a fair offer.

  7. I just want all of you to know that I could box out Pek.

  8. Jordan, I don’t think you are wrong that somebody might throw a stupid money contract at Pek if he were unrestricted and we were at the start of free agency. Just saying if Flip looks at the contracts in the market and what leverage Pek and his agent actually have, there is no empirical basis for anything more than 11-12m. I think we are all in agreement (of course, Pek’s agent doesn’t really care what this board’s consensus is, I can only assume).

  9. Of course if I’m Flip I point at Bradford Doolittle’s latest center WARP (one of the more ironically accurate acronyms in the business!) and say to Pek and his agent, “you had a career year and you’re not even a top 20 center in this league according to Bradford Doolittle! You’ll take the midlevel and like it.”

  10. I am not sure how much Glen Taylor had to pay Doolittle to not only leave Pek off the top 10 centers in the league list. But to completely leave him out of the article without so much as a disclaimer (not signed can’t be on the list) or honorable mention is pretty surprising.

  11. In his power forward segment he also put Anthony Davis ahead of Love. I am not a huge fan of his ATH system.

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