Archives For Bill Bayno

A funny thing happened on the way to Nikola Pekovic’s contract year: Kevin Love broke his hand and gave Pek the chance to show just how much he’s worth.

The timing of this injury — in line with Pek’s last season before restricted free agency — couldn’t have been more perfect for the third-year center. In fact, it’s a complete win-win for him. If he plays well and helps carry the team for the first month or more, he probably guarantees himself a max offer in restricted free agency, just to put pressure on the organization to match (I see you, Paul Allen). If he doesn’t play well and help carry the team, nobody would fault him at all for not being up for the task.

Pekovic came into this season with the preseason buzz phrase “best shape of his life.” He looked like a lean pitbull, ready to patrol the dog run without a glimmer of fear. With eight-ish pounds shed off his immense frame, Pek has not only taken the pressure off his surgically repaired ankle, but he’s allowed himself to move a lot freer than before. And somehow he even got stronger.  Continue Reading…

There were reports about a week ago that the Wolves were working out Hassan Whiteside for one of their final two roster spots. They’ve also been linked to trying to bring back Anthony Tolliver or reaching out toward veteran Mehmet Okur to bring in some much needed depth to the interior.

My initial thoughts are I really want Tolliver back. I loved the presence he provided for the team both on and off the court last season and think his talents, skill set and knowledge of the game greatly benefit the team. He can guard multiple positions, is a threat to knock down outside shots, and is more than willing to give up his body.

He’s the cliché that every coach wants in their reserve guys.

But Tolliver is looking for some money right now, and you can’t really blame him. The Wolves are capped out and exception-free after their flurry of moves this offseason to retool the players surrounding a promising core. The best they can offer Tolliver is the veteran’s minimum. For a player with his experience (four seasons), that’s a contract for roughly $915,000. That may seem like a good enough chunk of change to you and me, but he may be trying to fit into a room or mini mid-level exception somewhere to more than double that amount.

The Wolves simply can’t offer him the money he desires unless they make a trade to free up some cap room. The Wolves are about $2.3 million over the cap right now. Unless they trade Luke Ridnour ($4 million this season) or J.J. Barea ($4.4 million) for a draft pick or non-guaranteed deal, they can’t create the room to sign Tolliver. And really, trading one of those guys to bring in room for AT would be a nonsensical move.

Unless the market for Tolliver dries completely up and he decides to come back to the Wolves for the vet’s minimum, the Wolves will have to move their full attention to Whiteside and Okur. Okur is reportedly (Insider) looking for money that exceeds the veteran’s minimum ($1.3 million for his 10-year service), which means the Wolves are basically out with bringing him in too.

Honestly, I’m fine with that because while Okur may be a decent player still, he’s not the type of guy the Wolves need on their roster. He hasn’t been a decent rebounder in three years and he can’t defend the way the Wolves would need him to.

That leaves us with Hassan Whiteside, who may actually be interested in playing for the minimum salary (roughly $850,000 for his two years of experience).

Whiteside is… well… interesting, to say the least.  Continue Reading…