NBA free-agency season is only a few months away, and speculation has apparently begun early this year. Big-name stars like Josh Smith and Dwight Howard are expected to hit the open market, but today belongs to two under-the-radar players in Nikola Pekovic and J.J. Redick.
Pekovic has done a fine job as the Minnesota Timberwolves starting center this season, showing up and playing a great low-post game despite the team's season being lost. However, he is set to be a restricted free agent this summer and teams looking for help at the 5 will likely be ready to throw money at him, perhaps of the max-contract variety.
In Milwaukee, Redick has been the lights-out shooter that the Bucks have needed him to be. He is about to become an unrestricted free agent in July, and the Milwaukee management has some big decisions to make regarding him and some other free agents this summer.
That said, let's have a look at each man and analyze the latest buzz surrounding them.
Nikola Pekovic and "People who Know"
As was previously mentioned, Pekovic has been great manning the middle for Minnesota this season. At 6'11", 290 pounds, he has the size necessary to man the low post and be a big body under the basket.
On the season, Pekovic is averaging 15.9 points and 8.8 rebounds per game. Come July, he'll hit restricted free agency. That means that he can agree to offer sheets with any team for any amount of money, and the Timberwolves can match any of those offers per the Gilbert Arenas Rule of the current CBA.
However, it's not looking like it will even get that far.
According to Charley Walters of the St. Paul Pioneer Press, "people who know" claim that there is no way Pekovic will sign with any other team.
That's all well and good to hear, but keep in mind that it's only March. A lot can change once July rolls around, and it's up to Pekovic to decide if he wants to test the free-agency waters or not.
He isn't dominant at the position like regular double-double threats in Dwight Howard and Joakim Noah, but the fact that he has improved in each of his NBA seasons thus far suggests that he could become one in the next few years. After all, Pekovic is only 27 years old.
Just the same, the man is too important to the Timberwolves' future. If what Walters reports is true, then fans should look forward to many more years of Pekovic playing on the floors of the Target Center.
Bucks See Redick in the Future?
The Milwaukee Bucks are a bit crowded at guard right now. The team has Brandon Jennings, Monta Ellis and J.J. Redick at the position, all of whom could hit the open market this summer, with Jennings being a restricted free agent.
That leaves Milwaukee GM John Hammond to decide between Ellis and Redick. If what Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports says is true, then Redick is the one who will be buying a home in the area in the future.
Ever since being traded to the Bucks from the Orlando Magic at the trade deadline, Redick is averaging 15.4 points per game in 28.6 minutes off the bench. He is shooting 50 percent from the field, 37 percent from long range and is the perfect go-to guy for a scoring point guard in Jennings.
The facts are simple. Of the aforementioned trio, Milwaukee can only afford to retain two. Seeing as how the team is almost definitely going to match any offer Jennings receives from other teams, they need to get him an effective partner who can help in the scoring department, both as a catch-and-shoot guy and someone who can create off the dribble.
More importantly, the Bucks don't have any reason NOT to break the bank and bring Redick back. They have won four of the five games in which he has appeared for them and seem headed towards a playoff berth, so signing him to a long-term deal only makes sense.
Come July, we'll just have to see how strong a push Hammond makes to keep him.