Nikola Pekovic, Brandon Bass

Flip Saunders headed to NYC to meet with Pekovic’s agents


It’s a negotiation. This is how these things go.

The Minnesota Timberwolves want Nikola Pekovic back next season — he’s a perfect fit next to Kevin Love along the front line, plus he’s irreplaceable for any “Superman II” theme parties — but the team would like to get the most value it can. Pekovic wants as much money as he can get in his first big NBA contract.

Pekovic’s agents and Minnesota have negotiated, but the restricted free agent didn’t get helped out with an offer from another team that the Wolves would have had to match (that they likely would have hurt the chances Pekovic would get one).

Next week, Minnesota decision maker Flip Saunders is headed to New York to meet with Pekovic’s agent to try and sort this all out, reports Jerry Zgoda of the Star-Tribune.

The Wolves have offered Pekovic a four-year offer believed to be worth up to $50 million. Taylor said Schwartz had submitted a counteroffer.

“We made an offer and they made a counter offer,” Taylor said. “And they decided they should get together and talk about it in person rather than over the phone.’’

That said, Taylor indicated that he regarded the Wolves’ initial offer a good one. “Our offer wasn’t a negotiating offer,” he said. “Our offer was what we think was a really good offer.”

Pekovic averaged 16.3 points on 52 percent shooting and 8.8 rebounds a game last season, while playing solid help defense in the paint (which Minnesota needs considering Love is also on the front line). His scoring numbers likely drop some next season with Love back, but his value to the team does not.

That said, the Wolves offer seems right in the ballpark for Pekovic. If he really doesn’t like it his only leverage is to play one year at the qualifying offer of just over $6 million then be an unrestricted free agent next summer. That’s a lot of risk to take to see if another team would pay you a little more next season (he’s not a max salary guy).

I expect we’ll see a deal get done.

Spurs to give Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili Friday night off in Denver

Manu Ginobili, Harrison Barnes, Tim Duncan
Leave a comment

The Spurs are 12-3 and comfortably in second place in the West, they have the best defense in the NBA allowing just 93.8 points per 100 possessions, and they have a top-10 offense to go with it.

So, time to start making sure guys are rested.

That is the first night of a back-to-back, with former Spurs’ assistant coach Mike Budenholzer and his Atlanta Hawks coming to San Antonio on Saturday. Popovich is saving his two veterans for that game.

Duncan and Ginobili have looked like they found the fountain of youth this season. Duncan is taking on less of the offense but has been very efficient in those moments. Ginobili has the impact he did a few years back in his bench role.

What Gregg Popovich cares about is them playing like that come the postseason. So they will rest on Friday.

Brandon Armstrong impersonates Ray Allen (video)

2014 NBA Finals - Game Five
Leave a comment

Ray Allen is retired-ish, but he’ll always be running through screens – in our mind and in this video.

Celtics draft pick Marcus Thornton gets beer dumped on head during Australian game (video)

Marcus Thornton, Will Cherry
Leave a comment

The Celtics drafted Marcus Thornton with No. 45 pick in the 2015 NBA draft. That essentially entitled him to the required tender – a one-year contract offer, surely unguaranteed at the minimum.

Thornton rejected that, which is almost always a mistake.

Rejecting the tender is a favor to the drafting team, which gets to keep the player’s exclusive rights for a year. If Thornton tries to join the NBA now, he’s stuck negotiating with only the Celtics.

By accepting the tender, the player typically gets one of two outcomes. He either plays on that contract and draws an NBA salary or he gets waived. But even getting waived is better than rejecting the tender, because at least the player becomes a free agent and can negotiate with any team.

Players who reject the tender go to another league and play for less money. In Thornton’s case, that mean Australia.

How’s that going?

(Almost) never reject the required tender as a second-round pick.

Byron Scott says they just have to get Kobe Bryant better looks

Kobe Bryant, Joe Johnson, Byron Scott

Kobe Bryant is averaging 15.2 points a game at age 37. It’s just taking him 16.4 shots per game to get there. After his 1-of-14 shooting performance against the Warriors the other night — with too much isolation and too many plays run just for him — there has been a lot of talk about his shot. With reason, this is his shot chart so far this season.

Kobe shotchart season

So what do the Lakers’ do? Get Kobe to shoot less and get the ball in the hands of the young stars they supposed to be developing more? Nah.

They just need to get Kobe better looks, Scott told the Los Angeles Times.

“I know his mentality is that he can still play in this league,” Scott said. “And we feel the same way….

“Obviously he’s struggling right now with his shot, and I think everybody can see that,” Scott said. “So it’s trying to get him in better position to be able to have an opportunity to knock those shots down on a consistent basis. That’s No. 1.

“I don’t know if it’s his legs. I don’t think so. Again, our conversations are pretty blunt. … He tells me when he is tired and he tells me when he’s not tired. And the last few days, he said he feels great. So, I don’t think it’s a matter of him being tired or his legs being tired. I think it’s a matter of his timing being a little off.”

Yes, how could it be his legs? It’s not like he’s a 37-year-old with more than 55,000 NBA minutes played, and coming off an Achilles rupture and major knee surgery.

Honestly, I hope the Lakers and Kobe find a balance soon, because they have become just hard to watch. And I don’t want Kobe to go out this way.