The Portland Trail Blazers have been loosely linked to interest in Minnesota Timberwolves center Nikola Pekovic, who will be a restricted free agent this summer.
Earlier this week, Chris Haynes of CSNNW.com asked Pekovic for his thoughts on the matter.
"That's really nice when you hear that other teams like Portland really want to bring you in," Pekovic told CSNNW.com. "That means that I'm doing a good job and they like what I'm doing. That's something nice."
"You never know. My first option is to stay here." Pekovic said. "That's something that's really hard for me because there are people around me that are asking, 'What's going to happen this summer?'" Pekovic said. "This summer is going to be big for me. That's why I'm not really thinking about it and I'm just trying to focus on basketball."
Dane at AYoungSabonis.com explored whether the Blazers should be interested in Pekovic, concluding that he would probably be too expensive.
Pek has obvious value to the Timberwolves. Over the last two seasons he's been a part of the best 5-man-unit and a quick glance at the rebounding numbers shows he has an obvious affect on team rebounding when he's on the floor. This year, he has great WS/48 numbers and is averaging the (near) double-double Blazers fans have become accustomed to through JJ Hickson. This goes without saying, but Synergy confirms that Pekovic is a better post defender and individual defender than JJ. On the floor, Pek is an obvious upgrade to Portland's starting five, and a valuable member of the Wolves.
Signing Pekovic away would be a move that might be too much to swallow for Portland. The Blazers have a young core that will bode well for future salary cap considerations. If they sign Pekovic, they would end up with a few million left to sign their bench players. It would require Will Barton to drastically increase his efficiency, and it might even mean trading away Wesley Matthews in order for some cap relief or a draft pick.
The best team for Nikola Pekovic is the team that he's on. With trouble brewing in Minnesota, keeping their stars through the avenues outlined in the CBA will be their best route.
Blazers All-Star forward LaMarcus Aldridge has said he would like the "luxury" of playing alongside a true center. Blazers GM Neil Olshey recently said the franchise is still evaluating forward/center J.J. Hickson's fit.
Thanks to lumberjak in the FanShots for re-opening the Pekovic discussion.
-- Ben Golliver | firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter