The Minnesota Timberwolves have come to terms on a deal with restricted free agent big man Nikola Pekovic. According to a source familiar with the deal, it will be worth somewhere in the neighborhood of five years and $60 million.
ESPN’s Marc Stein broke the story early Wednesday afternoon, and it was confirmed by Timberwolves president Flip Saunders via his Twitter, posting “#wolvesnation. We have agreed to terms with Pek.” Stein also reports that Pekovic could be eligible to earn another $8 million by reaching certain incentives.
The move is huge for Minnesota, with Pekovic reaching a deal for the next five seasons, the team now has one of the better front courts in the National Basketball Association locked up for the future.
A Montenegro native, Nikola Pekovic is entering his fourth season in the NBA after being drafted with the 31st selection of the second round in 2008 by the Timberwolves. At 6-11 and 290 lbs, Pekovic has the size needed to already be one of the more physically intimidating big men in the game today. His game is improving as well, 2012 was easily his best season as a pro.
Statistics last year increased across the board for Pekovic, who alongside Kevin Love should be one of the best interior tandems in basketball today. Pek was able to post career highs in points per game (16.3), rebounds (8.8), assists (0.9), and blocks (0.8).
Averaging 31 minutes per game for Minnesota last season, Pekovic was able to start 62 games last season. He narrowly missed out on his first All-Star appearance.
Previous reports had indicated that the two sides were significantly apart in terms of the monetary compensation that would come with Pekovic extending his deal with the T-Wolves. Saunders wanted to keep the number down around the $48 million mark, whereas Pekovic’s agent was seeking $60 million. Able to meet in the middle, the two parties will now be tied together for the next half-decade.
Although this is a huge commitment for the Timberwolves to make with Pekovic, it will pay dividends and won’t impact the ability to sign other key players such as Ricky Rubio and Kevin Love when their contracts are set to expire. Had they not made the deal this offseason, then Nikola Pekovic would have been free to test the free agent waters next season, with no restrictions from the T-Wolves.
Follow me on Twitter @CharlieGille
Senior Sports Editor
The Guardian Express