Free agency has been interesting thus far for the Minnesota Timberwolves, as the franchise has experienced both positive and negative changes. While the ball club did acquire sharp-shooter Kevin Martin on a 4 year, $28 mil deal, this was countered by the fact well-rounded veteran Andrei Kirilenko decided to opt out of his contract with the organization.
Recently, the TWolves also waived center Greg Steimsma and forward Mickael Gelabale in an effort to create the cap space necessary to secure restricted free agent center Nikola Pekovic. Apparently, Minnesota plans on throwing quite a bit of cash toward the 27-year-old, as the club wants to make certain no other team tops their offer. Via Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune:
"The Minnesota Timberwolves have made a formal offer to Nikola Pekovic believed to be worth $12 million or more annually."
$12 mil a year? Really? Nikola Pekovic is going to earn $12 mil a year?
Now, before you scour the internet looking for proof that David Kahn is still the GM of this ball club, let me explain why Pekovic is actually deserving of this hefty pay day:
1) Nikola Pekovic possesses the strength and fundamental post-game necessary to score the ball efficiently down low. Last season, the center was exceptional in utilizing his 6'11, 291 pound frame to his advantage, as he would consistently bang around inside and finish plays at the rim. Pek ended the year with averages of 16.3 points on 52% shooting from the field, which proves he is capable of efficiently producing at a high rate from the low block.
Also, opponents cannot rely on a hacking strategy to stop this tank, as Pek consistently knocks down his shots from the charity stripe (74.4% in 12-13). Overall, Pekovic is a force in the paint offensively as his size, strength, and post skills wreck havoc on opposing defenses.
2) While he may not block too many attempts inside (0.8 blocks per game last season), his presence alone is enough to alter shots in the paint defensively. Once again, Nikola Pekovic's big body presents problems when players break through the perimeter defense, as his large frame clogs up lanes and forces opponents to either kick the ball out or throw up a contested shot. Pek is also consistent in regards to utilizing his size and boxing out his man to secure defensive boards (8.8 rebounds in 12-13). The Montenegrin is an absolute tank defensively, as a mixture of size and constant effort allow him to effectively protect the rim every night he steps on the court.
I have also conveniently provided video evidence to back-up my praise of Pek. Enjoy:
Nikola Pekovic is a force on both ends of the court, and at 27 years of age and only 3 years experience in the league, he definitely has more room to improve.
So yes, Pek is indeed worth the $12 mil a year contract Minnesota plans on offering him.