Updated: 08/16/2013 4:20 PM KSTP.com By: Ben Musel
Timberwolves center Nikola Pekovic signed his contract and met with the media today at Target Center. He said multiple times that Minnesota was the only team on his radar and that his agents, Jeff Schwartz and Sean Kennedy, were the main holdups on inking a deal. It sounds like the team was firm on $12 million/year and Schwartz was firm on getting more than the $48-$50 million that was being rumored. The $60 million contract does have eight million more in incentives, though most are unlikely.
Pekovic repeatedly stated that he is excited for the upcoming season and seeing what he, guard Ricky Rubio, forward Kevin Love and the rest of the team can accomplish when healthy. When prompted, he stated that this year’s squad is playoff-worthy and the same could have been said of last year's team if not for all of the bad luck injury-wise. He did not, however, take the bait when asked if he thought he was the best center in the league. He gave that title to Rockets big man Dwight Howard after mulling it over for a moment.
During the press conference, president of basketball operations Flip Saunders stated that re-signing Pekovic was the main goal during the offseason and that the team had something special with two legitimate big men in Love and Pek to clog the paint. When asked about the majority of the NBA moving to more small-ball lineups, Saunders said that was out of necessity and that the rest of the league doesn’t have the size and strength that the Timberwolves have in their frontcourt. He also stated that the team would be instituting a new philosophy that relies on more and better communication between the medical staff, the athletic trainers and the players’ own personal trainers in an effort to keep the players from overworking themselves and to stop small injuries before they become a bigger problem.
With Pek officially back, the team has its three core pieces in place for at least the next two years. That should be more than enough time to gain some playoff experience. This signing is a definite step in the right direction toward legitimacy in the pecking order of the NBA and something that will help solidify Love’s view that the team is headed in the right direction.