Nikola Pekovic still doesn’t have a contract for next season.
Pekovic, who’s a restricted free agent, is arguably the top player on the market. But he may not be without a deal for much longer. Minnesota Timberwolves president of basketball operations Flip Saunders told Tim Leighton of the St. Paul Pioneer Press that he’d like to re-sign the center before the start of training camp.
Pekovic made $4.8 million last season, per the report, but definitely deserves a bigger paycheck going forward after another impressive season. In 2012-13, the center averaged 16.3 points and 8.8 rebounds per game in 62 games for Minnesota. It was the second straight year he averaged 13-plus points and seven-plus boards.
While the Timberwolves didn’t make the playoffs last season, finishing the year with 31 wins and 51 losses, Pekovic was still one of the team’s biggest contributors. He led the organization in points and rebounds per game for players who played in at least 20 games. He also led the Timberwolves in player efficiency rating, according to ESPN.
Minnesota has a strong nucleus of players, led by Kevin Love, and Pekovic is certainly a big piece of the puzzle. The team could contend for a spot in the postseason, but only if it’s able to retain its center. Losing Pekovic—albeit it seems unlikely—would be detrimental to the team’s chances for 2013-14.
There’s still some time to re-sign Pekovic before training camp, but the two sides need to start making some progress in negotiations. There are other players aside from Pekovic looking to ink deals in the near future as well. Here are some updates on two players who are also still free agents.
Will Collins Land With Detroit?
Jason Collins has been all over the news throughout the offseason, but little of the focus has been about where he might play next season. Collins, who became the first openly gay active athlete in April, is an unrestricted free agent who has to be hoping that a franchise will sign him to a deal. He still has what it takes to make an impact off the bench on the low block.
The Detroit Pistons have expressed interest in the veteran center, according to Ramona Shelburne and Marc Stein of ESPN. But sources have told Vincent Goodwill of The Detroit News that the team doesn’t have any serious intentions of signing Collins to a contract for the upcoming season.
Detroit may be reluctant to sign Collins because he hasn’t played much in recent years. He hasn’t averaged 11 or more minutes per game since the 2010-11 season, when he was a member of the Atlanta Hawks. He played in 32 games for the Boston Celtics and six games for the Washington Wizards this past season.
In 713 career games, Collins has averaged 3.6 points and 3.8 rebounds per game. Those averages are rather top-heavy as well, meaning that he was much more productive in his earlier years. He hasn’t averaged more than three points per game since the 2005-06 season, when he was an impact player for the New Jersey Nets.
Detroit would be an intriguing landing spot for Collins. He could serve in a leadership role for the franchise, helping youngsters like Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe improve their respective games. But odds are Collins wouldn’t play a big role in the team’s offense and likely wouldn’t see much court time.
Knicks, Lakers to Look at Forbes
Gary Forbes hasn’t taken the court for an NBA team since 2011-12. He went undrafted out of UMass-Amherst a few years ago and hasn’t seen much time on the floor ever since. He spent 2010-11 with the Denver Nuggets, averaging 5.2 points in 12.6 minutes per game—playing in 63 games.
In 2011-12, Forbes played in 48 games for the Toronto Raptors. That year, the 6'7" guard averaged 6.6 points in 14.9 minutes per night. He’s a career 43.4 percent shooter from the floor and 34.0 percent shooter from downtown. He played overseas last year but may be making a return to the NBA this season.
HoopsHype reports the Lakers and Knicks are looking at Forbes:
It doesn’t seem likely that the Knicks will be giving Forbes a contract. New York has a bunch of guards on its roster for next season who are all better options than the free agent. Iman Shumpert will likely be the starter with J.R. Smith and rookie Tim Hardaway Jr. lending a hand off the bench at shooting guard.
The Lakers might not be the best fit for Forbes either. Los Angeles has Steve Nash running the point and Kobe Bryant is going to be the starting shooting guard. The team has Steve Blake, Jordan Farmar, Nick Young and Jodie Meeks as bench options, too. Where would Forbes fit into Mike D’Antoni’s rotation?
Forbes may be forced to play overseas again this year.
All statistics in this article were obtained via ESPN unless otherwise noted.