Tag Archives: Nikola Pekovic

A Pek-Sized Commitment

pekkkkk

artwork by Holly Grimsrud: http://www.hollygrimsrudart.com

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.

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Show Me the Money

AriGold

To the great Arn Tellem, who orchestrated that ludicrous Tyreke contract AND got two more of his clients (Vasquez and Robin Lopez) traded to more favorable situations. How? He reps Anthony Davis, that’s how.

That’s been an underrated subplot lately: Teams buttering up power agents by overpaying their fringe clients as down payments for future extensions with the ones they really want. Just call them “down-payment contracts.” An even better example: Dan Fegan represents Martell Webster (mysteriously signed by the Wizards for a comically high $22 million) and John Wall (about to sign an $80 million extension with, yup, the Wizards). Congrats on your down-payment contract, Martell! Does this stuff work in real life? I might hire Tellem before my next ESPN contract — I want to see if I can get House and JackO multimillion-dollar deals.

–Bill Simmons, in Part 2 of his “Midnight Run” off-season column. This touches on Nikola Pekovic, and his weirdly-long and ongoing contract negotiations.  In Case You Missed It, Pek has the same agent as Kevin Love (Jeff Schwartz). In case this is your first time reading anything about the Minnesota Timberwolves, Kevin Love will — in all likelihood — be a free agent in 2015; just two more seasons away. It would shock no one if Schwartz was dropping not-even-a-little-bit-subtle hints about Client A during contract negotiations for Client B. I think that might be how the world works, actually.

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by | August 1, 2013 · 6:12 AM

Kevin Martin, Rick Adelman, Flip Saunders, and a Disjointed Pack of Wolves

Slim Shady Kevin Martin is the newest member of the Minnesota Timberwolves

Insane news about Kevin Martin. He’s a Wolf. 4 years, 28 million. Wow.*

What does the Martin deal mean for the Wolves? A bunch of things.

First, management issues.

  • Slick Rick: It looks like we can’t write off Rick Adelman after all as a player in the Wolves front office. First Chase is re-signed (more obvious), and now Martin is acquired (less obvious). Adelman clearly shaped these moves, which will have implications that are likely to outlast Rick’s tenure in Minnesota.
  • C2: It appears that we now have an AdelFlip in the stead of our AdelKahn. But the chain-of-command  and command and control structures in the organization seem less clear than in Kahn’s last season in ‘Sota. Does anyone else smell an impending deathmatch?
 Second, on Martin specifically: as with most of the least-worst choice deals you make in life, there’s both some good and some bad here.

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Timberwolves Season in Review, Part 1: A Retrospective

Bayno-Sikma 2012

[This is Part 1 of a season review series. This post looks back in time at the season that was. A subsequent post (or two!) will use what we learned this season to take a prospective look ahead at what the Timberwolves should look like in 2013-14 and beyond.]

1. Season Highlight?

Andy G: Win over the Thunder, December 20, 2012

I’ll kick this thing off. The highlight moment of the season is an easy choice for me: the win over OKC on Thursday Night TNT. It was December 20th, Christmas time. Spirits were high with the Wolves moving to 2 games over .500 (the last point in the season in which this was the case) with a 13-11 record. All of Alexey Shved (the lead guard for the Rubio-less portion of the season), Kevin Love, and Nikola Pekovic were dominant. Pek was pick-and-rolling bigger and stronger than the top team in the West could handle. Love spread the floor with three-point bombs, scoring 28 points along with 11 boards and 7 assists (career high?). He was awesome and looked the part of an MVP candidate. And young Alexey Shved was the orchestrator of everything. Pre-ROOKIE WALL Shved was something to behold and legit reason for Timberwolves optimism. His skillset was on display in that win over Russell Westbrook and the Thunder. Shved had a whopping 12 assists that night. Oh yeah, and JJ was GREAT JJ. He killed it during #WinningTime. All in all, that was a major highlight at a point in the season when the team had statewide interest and expectations of a playoff run.

Patrick J: Concur. OKC, December 20th, or “The Proof of Kahncept Game”

The Wolves’ victory over OKC was one the few games this season at Target Center I got to attend–I was back in Minnesota visiting family and had good tickets with Andy G & co to see what I expected to be an overmatched but spiteful Wolves squad take on the best team in the West, the Oklahoma City Thunder. Good JJ came out in full force that night — the goodest JJ that JJ can be. The rest of the team synced that night, the Wolves snapped a long OKC winning streak. Shved was Olympics Shved, Love owned, and it was basically the team we expected to see in 2012-13, minus Rubio. Imagine the potential of that team plus Rubio. I often do, and it’s a pretty amazing highlight given the way things actually turned out.

2. Season Lowlight?

Patrick J: The K-Love/Woj interview immediately prior to Rubio return.

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Trailing the Thunder (THUNDER 127, Wolves 111)

Screen Shot 2013-02-23 at 7.33.58 AM

from espn.com

Sometimes the simple game flow image tells 90 percent of the game story.  Last night the Thunder built an early lead — 10 points after the first quarter — and never looked back.  The Wolves almost had the lead cut to 5 at half, but Luke Ridnour blasted Russell Westbrook as he attempted a desperation trey at the horn, sending him to the foul line for a gratuitous three points.  The 8-point halftime deficit was as close as the game would get from that point forward, with much of the second half showing the Thunder ready to blow the game completely open.  They led by as many as 17 points at different moments and ultimately won by 16.  It was not a close game, nor was it a particularly interesting game to dissect.  But there were some sub plots.

The Thunder are good.

If ya don’t know, now ya know — Oklahoma City has a great pro basketball team.  Here’s something interesting about that: OKC’s winning percentage is .727 — obviously great — which if the season ended today would mean improvement for the FIFTH consecutive season.  Coach Scott Brooks takes an undue amount of heat (Bill Simmons took his umpteenth jab at him during ESPN’s pregame show, not-so-subtly suggesting that Russell Westbrook’s temper tantrums are somehow on Brooks) for a coach who inherited an incredibly young, 1-12 team and has molded them into a steadily-improving Western Conference superpower.  Obviously the talent of Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant — on full display last night — is the overriding factor in the Thunder’s success.  But there’s so little to criticize about such a successful team that it seems discussion for discussion’s sake leads to Brooks getting ripped way more than he should.

In any case, the Thunder are awesome and reminded everyone of this last night.  Durant was his usual studly self.  He poured in 27 smooth points along with 7 rebounds and 7 assists.  When standing near the Wolves sideline during free throws, he took a moment to extend well wishes to Rick Adelman and family, dealing with a scary medical situation.  Dude is true class.  Russell Westbrook, whose volatility perhaps makes him less endearing to fans, was the better of the two superstars on Friday night.  Russ had 37 points, 9 assists, and 7 rebounds.  When he’s hitting that mid-range pull up he’s just a half-click below LeBron James on the Unstoppable Scale.  His historically-ridiculous explosiveness was on display when he was isolated one-on-one with Alexey Shved.  Shved is very good at staying in front of dribble penetration, erring on the side of backing off too far.  But Westbrook made him look knee-deep in quicksand, cruising past back-pedaling Shved for an easy two.

So yeah, the Thunder are good.  This isn’t news, but it is the primary piece of information gleaned from last night’s loss at Oklahoma City.

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Timberwolves at Grizzlies Preview: A Knockdown, Dragout Kind of Game

marc-gasol-go-kart

Will this man stand between Nik Pek and a 20+-point game?

Andy G: Wolves at Memphis tonight (5:00 CST, My29 for TV; 830 WCCO for radio) where they’ll face a Grizzlies team 13 games over .500. The Wolves? They’re 11 games below. Some big changes going on in Graceland that put the Grizzlies’ lofty standing in question. ESPN’s NUMB#RS guru, John Hollinger, joined the front office. Guess who’s no longer walkin’ through that door? That’d be you, Rudy Gay. Memphis now has Tayshawn Prince, whose extended, post-Aughts-dynasty stint in Detroit was the NBA’s version of an indefinite Gitmo detentionI. Seriously, what took so long for Dumars to find Prince a suitable home for a quality vet? In any case, he’s on a fringe Kahntender in Memphis now. He’s not exactly lighting the world on fire (9.3/3.3/3.5 in last 4 games) but we know he can play and he’s a gap-filler between a quick and feisty backcourt and big and bruising frountcourt.

Enough beating around the bush: Do the Wolves stand a chance of winning this game?

Patrick J: The Wolves stand a chance, but it’ll be a tough-fought win if it’s gonna come out in the Wolves’ favor. The big thing, to me, is the Gasol-Pekovic matchup. The Wolves have been able to rely – and need to rely – on Pek as their one consistent scoring threat throughout this tough stretch. But tonight, Pek gets the Gasol treatment. That means an extra-strength dose of pain for most opposing centers. And their backcourt is great at defense too. Mike Conley and Tony “000G” Allen make the lives of their oppenents miserable on a nightly basis. So Rubio, Luke, Shved & co, will have their work cut out for them. (Eds. Note: Allen has an excellent Twitter account, found here.)

So this leads to the next issue (assuming you agree) – can the Wolves get enough punch from Gelabale and/or D. Williams tonight to give them a shot in case our usual first options struggle?

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INBOX: A New “Pek”-ing Order? (A Wolves-Clips Preview of Sorts)

Artwork brought to you by Holly Grimsrud (http://www.hollygrimsrudart.com)

Artwork brought to you by Holly Grimsrud (http://www.hollygrimsrudart.com)

Andy G: Wolves host Clips tonight. CP3 isn’t playing. He has a bruised kneecap. The Clippers have lost 3 of their last 4 games played without their MVP. On our side of things, disaster relief is on the way. Nik Pekovic is back. Alexey Shved is back. And most importantly, Coach Rick Adelman is back. The Wolves should be able to trot out some semblance of a starting NBA lineup tonight, perhaps the only eye sore being Luke Ridnour at the starting off-guard, should Adelman choose to move Shved to 6th Man. Personally, I’d just as soon start GELABALE next to a creator like Ricky, but there’s no chance of that happening so I’ll stop right there. In any case, the way I see it the equation goes something like:

Adelman + Pek + Shved – CP3 = Automatic Wolves Win

Tell me why I’m wrong.

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