Minnesota Timberwolves: Top Five Most Likely Players to be Traded

3 of 6

Feb 11, 2015; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves center Nikola Pekovic (14) shoots the ball over Golden State Warriors center Andrew Bogut (12) in the second half at Target Center. The Warriors won 94-91. Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

#4 – Nikola Pekovic

This is another long shot, of course. Pekovic’s current contract kicked in just last year, and it’s a deal that will pay him $12.1 million every season until 2017 when the figure drops to $11.6 million.

Obviously, they like him. Saunder was the one who signed off on the contract, too, so it’s not like he was inked to a long-term deal under the previous regime. But Saunders also traded for Gorgui Dieng on draft night in 2013, and throughout Pek’s lengthy absences last season and earlier this year, Dieng has played very well and is highly regarded around the league.

Dieng certainly has higher trade value than Pekovic at his point in time, given the shrinking gap between their respective production levels and the massive chasm in salary commitments, but that’s exactly why the Wolves would be more likely to move the hulking Montenegrin than Dieng.

Pekovic is still a top-ten center in the league when healthy, but between the chronic ankle problems and his enormous contract, it’s hard to see how the Wolves wouldn’t have to sacrifice some value simply to clear the salary commitment off the books. And he’s still a functional-enough player that works very well with their newly-extended young point guard in Ricky Rubio that Minnesota probably won’t just give him away.

Moving forward, he’s a trade candidate. But at this point, the only way he’s moved is if Saunders is able to procure something resembling full value for Pekovic’s on-court production.

Next: Big-Time Scorer Equals Big-Time Return?