The Nikola Pekovic signing seemed imminent when the Minnesota Timberwolves extended him the qualifying offer that enabled the team to match any offers for the big center. Instead, representatives from both sides are still working out details, which has us wondering. What exactly is holding up the Nikola Pekovic signing?
Flip Saunders, the president of basketball operations, had some interesting comments recently as it pertains to the Timberwolves plans moving forward:
“Right now we’re going through maybe an education process with Pek and his people of where we’re at with our organization and his importance to us and where we feel we’re at with what our offer is and why we’ve offered him what we’ve offered.”
The strange part of all this is that there really isn’t anywhere for Pekovic to go. As noted by Nick Borges of ESPN.com, only the Philadelphia 76ers have the cap space to offer Pekovic a reasonable salary, and they don’t have any interest.
IT’S NOT ABOUT THIS YEAR
It sounds like the Timberwolves are leery of giving Pekovic too long of a contract because of the impending Ricky Rubio extension.
It’s no coincedence that Rubio’s contract comes due in 2015-16, which is the same year that Kevin Love has his option year. The Wolves want to believe that Love and Rubio will stick together, but they can only have the power to keep Rubio. Love will need some convincing at that point.
How does it affect Pekovic? While the specific details remain unknown, it has to deal with some sort of option in the fourth year. The Wolves understandably would like to keep themselves below the luxury tax threshold and will be able to if they’re given an option.
For Pekovic (and any other player), he’ll want to have control of that option or at the very least, he’d want the last year fully guaranteed. It’s a stalemate that has happened many times before and will happen again.
WHAT’S THE WORST THAT COULD HAPPEN?
The worst-case scenario is that Pekovic plays for the qualifying offer of $6 million and becomes an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. This would certainly cause a lot of hurt feelings if a deal can’t be completed (ask Love, he knows).
The “education” that Saunders is referring to likely has to do with showing Pekovic that while he’s important to the team, there’s no chance they’re going to hamstring themselves with big contracts and be unable to fill the roster (see Garnett, Kevin).
@smcphers0n I get feeling Wolves think they’re in position where they don’t need to compromise much, considering he didn’t get another offer
— Jerry Zgoda (@JerryZgoda) July 30, 2013
In theory, that makes sense. However, we’re talking about athletes who often have very large (and very sensitive) egos. Pekovic believes he’s worth a number and no matter what the Wolves say, he’s seemingly staying firm. For the sake of Timberwolves fans, we can only hope the situation gets resolved quickly and with little hurt feelings.