Archives For Nikola Pekovic

From the Wolves:

The Minnesota Timberwolves today announced the team has reached an agreement in principle on a contract with restricted free-agent center Nikola Pekovic. Per team policy, terms of the agreement were not  disclosed. ‘Retaining Pek was our No. 1 priority this offseason and we’re very excited that he’s chosen to continue his career in Minnesota,’ said Wolves President of Basketball Operations Flip Saunders.
Meanwhile, Marc Stein is reporting at ESPN that the contract is a five-year deal, worth $60 million “and potentially up to an additional $8 million in incentive-related bonuses.”
The deal was clinched, sources say, when Minnesota offered a fifth year. Initial indications are that neither side possesses an option in the new contract, making it a straight-up deal for the next five seasons for the 27-year-old.
Now, it’s hard to speak definitively until we know for certain about the option status of that fifth year and about the details of those incentives. But if the deal really is as Stein says it is, another fully guaranteed year and extra incentives strikes me as too great a concession on the Wolves part to a player who, remember, had no meaningful bargaining leverage. (Although we can certainly speculate on the effect of Kevin Love’s looming free-agency–and the fact that Pekovic’s agent, Jeff Schwartz, also represents Love–on the negotiations). The cumulative effect of those little things–the extra year here and there, those extra few million–can be disastrous down the road for small-market teams under this Collective Bargaining Agreement.

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.

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).  It’s remains a near-certainty that Pek will sign a deal by next month.

Pek Meat

For about a week and a half, we’ve been waiting on a team to make a big offer to Nikola Pekovic and for the Wolves to have to make a decision on just how much they love the big man.

Would he get a crazy max contract offer from someone like the Portland Trail Blazers or Cleveland Cavaliers in an attempt to put the Wolves in a precarious decision of having to overextend their cap situation to match the offer sheet? What would the market for Pek be? Was there a threshold for their confidence in spending for his services? Would the go over $10 million annually? When would the restricted free agency dance commence and conclude?

After 10 days of very little chatter about Pekovic, as the Dwight Howard domino has fallen and the Andrew Bynum rumors are starting to swell, it looks like the Timberwolves are ready to end this dance, in what can be viewed as both a savvy and risky move. According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports, the Wolves and Pek are about to agree on a four-year, $50 million contract extension for the Monster from Montenegro.  Continue Reading…

MiniMart

Now that the Timberwolves have lost out on J.J. Redick, they’ve turned their attention to Kevin Martin as the backup plan for the shooting guard position.

According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports and Sam Amick of USA Today, the Wolves and Martin have agreed on a four-year, $28 million contract. The awkward but accurate shooting guard is incredibly familiar with Rick Adelman’s system, which he came into the league with in Sacramento and played in with the Houston Rockets for a couple of seasons.  Continue Reading…

Pekovic

We’re kicking off our offseason coverage here at A Wolf Among Wolves with a comprehensive roster review of the team from this past season, looking at how each player’s 2012-13 went and what we see for them going forward. One player a day for the next couple weeks, starting with the bench and rolling up to the starters.

Tradition in a storm of revolution.

That’s what Nikola Pekovic is for the Minnesota Timberwolves. He’s tradition. He’s brute strength and post skill. He’s rebounding prowess and paint protection. He doesn’t block shots but he cuts off paths to the hoop for every player in the league that thinks they can bang with him. Amazingly, it happens more often than you’d assume it does. Nikola Pekovic is kind of a traditional center. He can run the pick-and-roll or put opponents in the meat grinder on the low block. He’s great at battling for the boards on both sides of the floor. And he doesn’t kill you from the free throw line.

The weird thing though is that you’re trying to fit this traditional center into the concept of today’s basketball. And I’d imagine that’s what gives people a lot of pause when trying to decide just how much Pek is worth to this team. As of July 1st, you don’t get to measure that value in terms of points or rebounds or win-loss record or PER or win shares or win shares per 48 minutes or skulls collected. When June 30, 2013 dies, so do all of the measurements of Pek’s skills too. At that moment, Pek becomes a monetary value to the Wolves’ organization and that’s the number we’ll judge him by.

Before we get to that point on July 1, I’d like to go over the value of Pek that exists/existed before he became a monetary value.  Continue Reading…

Rubio Buck Hunter Pro

It’s amazing how fun Ricky Rubio can be at times.

We know about the passing and the steals. We know he can crash the boards and break down opposing perimeter defenders. And we see glimpses of an improved jump shooter. In fact, over Rubio’s last 10 games, he’s over 40% from the field (41.2%) and he’s made 50% of his 3-point shots. Now, I wouldn’t say he’s fixed his ability to put the ball in the basket; it’s still very much a work in progress. But there are signs of improvement.

Two things I look for when Rubio taking a jumper are 1) was he readying himself before the pass got to him and 2) where is the arc on his shot?  Continue Reading…

WolfBull

“A broken clock is right twice a day.”

This is one of those sayings that is supposed to be clever and profound, but all it does is make me irate when people use it as a crutch for a terrible argument. Sure, a broken clock is correct twice a day, unless you’re in the military — then it’s correct only once a day. And the rest of the 1,439 minutes, you’re left looking at a time holder that is incorrect and you start wondering how you can get this clock fixed. Or maybe you’re wondering if you need to get a new clock altogether.

The point is a broken clock needs to be fixed. Depending on the type of clock, it could just need new batteries or it could need to be wound up. Or maybe there is a gear that’s completely disconnected. Regardless, if you want that same clock to work then you need to figure out what’s wrong with it and how to get it back to keeping the intended time.  Continue Reading…

With the Timberwolves welcoming back Nikola Pekovic and Andrei Kirilenko to the starting lineup after nearly three weeks on the shelf, last night’s win over the New Orleans Hornets was a case study in shaking off the rust.

So let’s start by looking at some of Pek’s play on the defensive end in the first quarter. Here are several defensive possessions by the Wolves that leave a lot to be desired, particularly from Pek:

There’s an airballed hookshot, poor defensive rotations, apathetic rebounding effort, and lead-footed pick-and-roll defense.

But wait: suspend your judgment for a moment because there’s more at work here than just a lack of effort. First of all, neither Pekovic nor Kirilenko actually got to practice with the team before coming back. Normally, there are a set of steps that a player goes through to work back from an injury that involve gradual steps from conditioning to shooting to contact and eventually to full 5-on-5 work. But with the Wolves only dressing nine players for the last several weeks and a jam-packed schedule full of back-to-backs that isn’t allowing for many practices, they didn’t have much choice. Continue Reading…

Love Plunge

Let’s go with the sad news first, that way I can tear us down before I build us back up! Strategy!

Kevin Love told Jerry Zgoda that he knows missing the rest of the season is a real possibility. He’s able to admit that to himself, knowing that while he definitely wants to get back onto the court for the team, he still has to listen to the doctor and wait for clearance with the clock on the season ticking away.  Continue Reading…