One way or another, it seems that restricted free agent center Nikola Pekovic will be a member of the Minnesota Timberwolves next season. At least that's what Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor had to say regarding the status of negotiations with the top player still on the NBA free agent market.
Minnesota is believed to have offered Pekovic a four-year contract worth close to $50 million, and Pekovic's camp has countered with a figure likely closer to $55 million. As he is a restricted free agent, the Timberwolves have the right to match any offer from another team. Taylor said he is "very positive" that Pekovic will be back with Minnesota next season. Here's what Minnesota's owner had to say during a recent interview on NBA TV (quotes via the Star-Tribune):
"My sense is, I think we both know he's going to be playing for our team next year," Taylor said. "I think we're just dealing with an element time of here. I would tell you I'm very positive that he'll play for our team. What we have left isn't something that can't be resolved. There doesn't seem to be a lot of pressure on us or him to get it done. A meet has been set up in the future.
"I'm confident it'll get done. I've been through so many of things. You say, `It's just money, Glen.' I think we'll get it done. He's an important part of our team. He wants to be back and we want him here."
The 27-year-old center from Montenegro posted career-highs in points (16.3) and rebounds (8.8) per contest last season for Minnesota, and he started 62 games for the team. If the two sides don't come together on a long-term agreement, Pekovic could still decide to sign Minnesota's one-year qualifying offer and become an unrestricted free agent after next season. That's really the only leverage he has left, so it will be interesting to see how each party negotiates toward a long-term deal in the near future. In any case, don't expect Pekovic to play elsewhere next season.