Well, that took a while.
It would be wrong to say we were “anxiously” awaiting the news of Pekovic re-signing, because it seemed inevitable. His potential suitors burned up their cap space elsewhere, the Wolves were reportedly offering market value, and… well, no respectable RFA takes the qualifying offer. Pek was going to be re-signed. The only questions were for how much money and for how many years.
Those questions were answered today when Flip Saunders broke the news that a deal had been reached.
Flip’s Twitter account makes me laugh. When he’s trying to spell a foreign prospect’s name, it makes me cringe. But it usually makes me laugh.
Jerry Z has all of the important deets over at On the Wolves. Five years, $60 Million is a big commitment, but it’s a big commitment to a good player. Importantly, the five year detail does not preclude the “super-max” offer to Ricky Rubio, the way it would have if the team used it on Kevin Love. Apparently there are some incentives in the deal, but it sounds like roughly sixty mil.
This is good news, if not surprising news. Nikola Pekovic is a good player. Maybe even a very good — sometimes almost great — player. Pek is smart. He understands where he should be on the floor at all times. On both ends. He has a soft touch with his right hand hook, along with a drop step that must make Pete Newell smile in his grave. Pek can make free throws, and — on defense — Pek can “wall up” to contest drives without fouling.
But most of all, Pek is a fucking badass in the paint. Without a traditional “superstar” scorer in the mold of LeBron James, Kobe Bryant or Dwyane Wade, and without the rangy team athleticism to hang their hat on elite defense, the Timberwolves need a different way to become great. Ricky Rubio’s passing helps. Kevin Love’s patented combination of rebounding and shooting certainly doesn’t hurt. Pekovic adds an element of interior muscle that just exhausts opponents. Maybe not Dwight Howard or Marc Gasol, but in 20 or more different NBA matchups the Wolves have an advantage where the opposing center is focusing mental and physical attention on keeping Pek out from under the rim. It’s not an easy task, and it’s a way that teams will have to adjust their game plans around us, rather than vice versa. Having sat through so many of these games since KG left, it’s refreshing to see the Wolves dictate personnel matchups. Again, not every night, but a great deal of them.
In any case, I won’t spend more words than this news is worth. You know who Pek is and what he brings. He’s a fan fave. “The Godfather.”
I’m glad he’ll be here for five more seasons.