April 10, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves center Nikola Pekovic (14) shoots a basket against the defense of Los Angeles Clippers center DeAndre Jordan (6) during the first half at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Nikola Pekovic Free Agency Nightmares

There is paranoid, hopeful, and delusional thinking when regarding the Nikola Pekovic restricted free agency.

You may believe the Wolves are in no position to pay a starting-caliber center a market rate, a reflection of their status as a mid-market team that makes such a contract prohibitive. That take would leave you scanning the free agent landscape, searching for teams with needs in the middle who have the ability to offer obscene amounts of cash for Pek, and force the Wolves to match or rake them across the coals in a sign-and-trade.

On the other hand, there are so many free agent bigs this summer, there is the possibility Pek could fall through the cracks or fly under the radar and all those big names could waffle in their decision-making process and string out the would-be suitors long enough that Pek could be had for a reasonable, Wolves-friendly rate. Dwight Howard will probably end up taking a month to make his decision, so this could conceivably happen.

But the idea Pek’s next contract could be written in comic sans or he would somehow only sign for $8 million a year is beyond starry-eyed thinking. The Texas trio possibility doesn’t seem too far off that drunk-dialing, Cleveland concept.

The reality is more than a bit likely to be somewhere in between the $8 and $14 million range. For some reason, I feel like this needs to be repeated over and over. Brace for the higher end of that spectrum. It’s ok.

An excerpt:

Dallas has enough cap space for one major free agency push, and could get to two if they decline some options and give away their draft pick. They have been linked to Dwight Howard, but they also have glaring need at the guard positions. I think Chris Paul will enter the equation for the Mavs. As a Wolves fan, my hope is that Howard drags out his decision and ties up several teams cap space who would otherwise bid on centers. Also, Chris Paul signing with the Mavs quickly would make Pek too expensive to pursue for the Mavs while not creating another Pek contender as the Clips have their bigs in order. Dallas will concern me if Howard and Paul quickly re-sign in LA.

A final note on the Texas teams. Pek has been rumored to all three throughout the year mainly because all 3 Texas teams are ‘smart’ teams and Pek is a ‘smart’ player (below the radar, high value, low salary guy). However, give pek an 8 figure contract and he’s no longer a ‘smart’ player – at $10M I’d say he’s a properly valued guy and at $12M he’s in the over-paid big man category. Since Pek isn’t as ‘smart’ a player at these levels, I think these ‘smart’ teams ignore him unless an $8M or less offer can get him from a Wolves team that somehow get’s itself too close to the cap tax line.

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