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Flip Saunders says he expects Nikola Pekovic to be back with T’Wolves next season

May 29, 2013, 10:38 PM EDT

Nikola Pekovic, Brandon Bass AP

Nikola Pekovic had a breakout year for the Timberwolves, and is a very nice piece to have as a core member of the starting lineup for a team on the rise.

New president of basketball operations Flip Saunders intends to keep it that way in Minnesota, and said that even though Pekovic is a restricted free agent this summer, he expects to b able to retain the big man’s services.

From Phil Ervin of Fox Sports North:

“Pek’s a restricted free agent, so we expect that he’s going to be back,” Saunders said. “We feel he’s a valuable part of where we’re going, and we’ll do what we have to do to try to bring him back. I think Kirilenko’s the same way. Until he exercises his option, we feel he’s a guy that’s going to come back.”

It’s good news for the fan base that Pekovic is high on Saunders’ list of priorities. The center started in all 62 games in which he appeared, and averaged 16.3 points and 8.8 rebounds in 31.6 minutes per game last season.

He’ll undoubtedly be coveted on the free agent market, but the Timberwolves will have the right to match any offer Pekovic receives once they tender him a qualifying offer of between $5 and $6 million, which seems to be the direction the franchise is headed.

As for the likelihood of Andrei Kirilenko returning, that’s hardly news. He was serviceable last season with averages of 12.4 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 2.8 assists, but his player option for over $10 million next season far outweighs his on-court contributions.

  1. money2long - May 29, 2013 at 11:12 PM

    pek’s arm is tatted up yo. anyway tho, a good center. he’s built like a tank. he and love together is a good tandem.

  2. captainwisdom8888 - May 29, 2013 at 11:47 PM

    My 76ers could use a Pek in the worst kinda way…wait..that sounds a litte creepy..

    Minnesota was a pleasant surprise last year, and they aren’t going to let 2 very integral guys hit the road. They’re the only team in the NBA that can put 5 white guys on the floor at once and beat you soundly. That’s more than rare in today’s NBA…

    • timbrack - May 30, 2013 at 1:46 AM

      How was Minnesota a pleasant surprise last year? They fought major injuries and finished worse than predicted.

    • anhdazman - May 30, 2013 at 2:36 AM

      I’m sorry, but how was Minnesota a pleasant surprise when your team was 31-51? They were horrible.
      The only pleasant thing is that they get another lottery pick. Which isn’t a surprise for that Franchise.

      • zerole00 - May 30, 2013 at 12:40 PM

        Are you kidding? Did you see how many players were out because of injuries? Love and Rubio were out for a significant portion of the season and they alone are cornerstones of the franchise.

    • benwobbles - May 30, 2013 at 5:03 PM

      I’m with Anhdazman and a min resident… The team was talked about preseason as potential 8 seed on the local raido. They underachieved to the hype/potential and definatly were not a pleasant surprise. While the injurys were abnormally high they also signed some players (ie. Brandon Roy) that didnt have a track record of good health.

      The “pleasant surprise” this season was the departure of David Kahn and the *sigh* rehiring of Flipp Saunders. At least he got us to the playoffs. Go t-pups

  3. rickyspanish - May 29, 2013 at 11:48 PM

    Pekovic is going to get paid.

    • 00maltliquor - May 30, 2013 at 1:47 AM

      Yes sir! To the tune of 4 years/$47-50,000,000. And NOT from the T-Wolves. They won’t have that kind of dough to match unless AK47 does the honorable thing and opts out (yeah right) of his way too high contract.

      Remember I said this and remember you heard it here first! Just wait and see. I knows thisss!

  4. biasedhomer - May 29, 2013 at 11:56 PM

    I think some team will offer him a max contract. 16 and 8 for a 27 year old big man, look what Hibbert got.

  5. saint1997 - May 30, 2013 at 2:05 AM

    Look for Portland to overpay in order to get him

    • 00maltliquor - May 30, 2013 at 2:36 AM

      I can see that happening, no doubt.

    • jcmeyer10 - May 30, 2013 at 9:00 AM

      The Reverse Batum… that doesn’t sound right either…

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