Timberwolves restricted free agent center Nikola Pekovic will miss the EuroBasket championship in September because he is still engaged in contract negotiations with Minnesota and doesn't want to risk an injury that could jeopardize a four-year deal that he is close to signing with the Wolves that would pay him somewhere in the ballpark of $60 million.
According to a report Tuesday from the site for the Basketball Federation of Montenegro, via NBC Sports, the Montenegro team had listed Aug. 5 as the deadline for a decision from Pekovic but his representatives have advised him to stay out of the upcoming FIBA tournament to remain healthy for the big contract that he appears to be on the verge of signing. Removing his name from the mix for Montenegro means he will likely not be on the roster if the team qualifies for the 2016 Olympics.
Reports of Pekovic nearing a deal with the Wolves have been circulating for nearly a month. In early July, it was reported that he wants to remain in Minnesota and was nearing a deal that would pay him upwards of $50 million over four years. The two sides are reportedly working out a deal that will pay him between $12 to $15 million per year over the next four seasons. Pekovic has reportedly said that he wants $15 million per year. In 31 minutes per game last season for the Wolves, the 27-year-old center averaged 16.3 points and 8.8 rebounds, appearing in 62 games.
The only other NBA player on the Montenegro team is fellow big man Nikola Vucevic, who averaged 13.1 points and 11.9 rebounds last season for the Orlando Magic. As the NBC Sports report suggests, the fact that Pekovic has removed himself from Montenegro's pursuit of the FIBA Championships could mean that the Wolves are not as close to a deal with the third-year pro as has previously been reported. SI WIRE: Kobe Bryant: 'We've shattered' recovery time from Achilles surgery