Deadlines spur action. Media Day is Monday, and training camp begins immediately afterwards, so after a summer of no news on their two injured big men (Kevin Garnett and Nikola Pekovic), it seems the Wolves are finally getting some answers. As you, uh, probably heard, KG retired yesterday. But what may have (understandably) gotten lost in the shuffle is the news regarding Big Pek:
— WCCO Radio (@wccoradio) September 23, 2016
A bit of context from the indispensable Jon Krawczynski:
Regarding Nikola Pekovic: He will not play this season. Insurance will cover Wolves on contract. Highly doubtful he plays again …
— Jon Krawczynski (@APkrawczynski) September 24, 2016
Turns out, being 6’10 and 300 lbs is tough on your lower extremities. Foot, ankle, and Achilles tendon injuries have basically made playing basketball impossible for the 30-year-old native of Montenegro, who will (likely) retire with career averages of 12.6 points and 6.7 rebounds in 271 games. His best season came during 2013-14, when he put up 17.5 points and 8.7 rebounds, including a one month stretch (from mid-December through mid-January) where he averaged 22 and 10 on 56% shooting.
Pekovic’s chemistry with Kevin Love, during the all-too-few times both were healthy, was beautiful to watch, with the two of them playing a high-low game to perfection, and Pek’s deft moves around the basket complimenting Love’s outside-in game. Despite his imposing physique and ever-growing collection of badass tattoos, Pek wasn’t he scary Bond villain many liked to joke that he was; rather, he was a goofball with a particular love for the character of Alan from the “Hangover” movies:
Pek appeared in 12 games last season, averaging 4.5 points and 1.8 rebounds and shooting just 38% from the field. For anyone who remembers him at his best – a bruiser with incredibly soft touch around the basket and an excellent rim-runner and rebounder – it was tough to watch. He just couldn’t move comfortably.
It’s likely he’ll remain on the roster through this season, and a buyout will be discussed next summer, when he’ll have just one year and $12 million (partially guaranteed) left on his deal. So there’s a chance the big fella will be on the bench, goofing off, making people laugh, and rocking those nightclub bouncer suits.
It’s an unfortunate end for a guy who was, at his peak, incredibly fun to watch.