We're at the point in the free agency process where Nikola Pekovic is probably the best player who hasn't signed a contract yet. His leverage wanes as the days pass and, as such, Flip Saunders is pretty confident his team will reach a deal with the big man.
"We're moving in a positive direction," he said. "I still believe he wants to be here. I believe we are the best situation for him. He has had some success here. Success is not guaranteed in this league. ... I'm confident we'll have a meeting of the minds."
Saunders even set a time frame:
Flip remains confidnet Pek deal will get down. Asked for a deadline, he said, "Training camp."— Jerry Zgoda (@JerryZgoda) August 12, 2013
It's not so much whether or not Pekovic wants to be in Minnesota as whether he has another choice. The last we heard from Pekovic's camp, his agent was pushing for a $15 million deal over four years. Meanwhile, the Timberwolves are believed to be offering about $50 million. It's not that Pekovic isn't worth the money after averaging 16.3 points and 8.8 rebounds per game last year, it's that his bargaining power isn't what it could be this summer.
As a restricted free agent, the Timberwolves have the opportunity to match any deal he signs with another team -- though there hasn't really been any talk of him negotiating with other teams. The Timberwolves would like to reach a deal this year to avoid Pekovic becoming an unrestricted free agent next season, but Pekovic is pretty much guaranteed to be in Minnesota until then.
So Saunders can be confident in negotiating without much fear of being wrong.