May 29, 2013, 10:38 PM EST
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.
“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.
- Jimmy Butler even plans to play defense in the All-Star Game 7
- Damian Lillard “disappointed,” “disrespected” not to make All-Star team 41
- DeMarcus Cousins replaces Kobe Bryant in All-Star game 10
- Tyson Chandler, better than ever, thinking legacy 8
- Report: Magic close to firing Jacque Vaughn 15
- Three Things We Learned in NBA Thursday: The All-Star Rosters need to be expanded 29
- One day after having surgery, Kobe Bryant came to see Pau Gasol 7
- Report: Dwight Howard could miss “extended time” with knee injury 5