Restricted free-agent center Nikola Pekovic has agreed to a new five-year contract worth $60 million with the Minnesota Timberwolves.
ESPN’s Marc Stein reported the news via Twitter on Wednesday afternoon:
Minnesota's president of basketball operations Flip Saunders later confirmed the news:
This puts an end to a long, drawn-out saga that began at the start of the free-agency period in early July. Fortunately for the T-Wolves, no serious suitors arose for Pekovic’s services in the time it took them to hammer out this contract agreement.
Talks had been ongoing for well over a month before Wednesday’s deal, with Minnesota ultimately adding another year to the four-year, $48 million contract they reportedly had on the table earlier this week, according to the Associated Press via ESPN.com.
Pekovic was coming off the best season of his short career, having averaged 16.3 points, 8.8 rebounds and 0.8 blocks per game for the injury-plagued Timberwolves.
The 27-year-old projects to be a cornerstone in Minnesota’s frontcourt for the next half-decade, allowing team's front office to focus on locking down Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio to long-term deals.
Love has the ability to opt out of his contract after the 2014-15 campaign, which is the same time that Rubio’s rookie deal is set to expire.
If the team makes a playoff run following the 2013-14 regular season, it would go a long way toward convincing Love and Rubio to follow in Pekovic’s footsteps and re-up with Minnesota.
Even if the T-Wolves end up losing both superstars, they have plenty to look forward to during the next two seasons with this promising young nucleus.