Briefly take a gander at the futile exercise these experts were put through regarding the question: What would you offer Nikola Pekovic? (From the 4-letter…)
Just a warning, the numbers get pretty huge. Splitters 4/$36 doesn’t seem to set Pek’s market. I don’t know if Dwight Howard or Andrew Bynum will, either. The fact Portland seems to be moving along without Pek consideration is a relief. But, all together now, it only takes one…
Coon: Five years, $57.5 million. Pek’s situation has all the earmarks of a nice payday. He finished the season well, he’s a big man and he’s a restricted free agent. If some team wants to pry him away from Minnesota, they’re going to have to make him an offer the Timberwollves would be reluctant to match. But I don’t see Minnesota letting him go that easily. After he flirts with other teams a little, I see them taking advantage of their Bird rights and locking him in for five years with bigger raises, but maybe conceding a little on the starting salary.
Elhassan: Four years, $44 million (five years, $55 million if it’s from Minnesota). One of the most efficient interior scorers in the league, Pekovic gets to the free throw line frequently (0.437 FTA rate) and converts (0.744 FT percentage), and is also one of the best offensive rebounders in the league (13.0 ORB percentage). Center is the highest-paid position in basketball, and with word of Tiago Splitter signing a four-year, $36 million deal, Pekovic’s leverage increases.
Han: Four years, $42.5 million. Centers are notoriously overpaid in the league simply because of the dearth of serviceable bigs. Pekovic is more than serviceable, though, ranking ninth last season in PER among all centers. He’s a solid roll-man and a boulder of a defender on the low block. If a team can sign him for a low-eight-figure price, that’s a reasonable deal considering the position.
Sunnergren: Four years, $60 million. It might prove to be a bit of an overpay, but the nearly 300-pound Montenegrin — after just three seasons of NBA basketball — has blossomed into an efficient and effective scorer (he posted 16.3 PPG last season and a higher true shooting percentage than Brook Lopez), a plus defender and one of the league’s pre-eminent offensive rebounders.
Winter: Four years, $48 million. Pekovic isn’t a role player and he’s not a superstar, either. He deserves more money than Splitter but not as much as Marc Gasol. He might earn more than this in reality, but Pek’s defensive deficiencies at the rim and in pick-and-roll situations mean his very good raw numbers paint an inaccurate portrayal of his overall impact. For a limited third wheel, this seems appropriate.