One of the biggest names on this summer's free agent market finally came off the board today when Nikola Pekovic reached a five-year, $60MM agreement with the Timberwolves. The deal will make Pekovic the highest-paid restricted free agent of the offseason, by both overall value and annual salary. He also landed the third-highest overall guarantee, behind only Chris Paul and Dwight Howard. Here's more on Pekovic and other items from around the Western Conference:
- The new deal for Pekovic won't affect the Timberwolves' ability to keep Ricky Rubio or Kevin Love long-term, president Flip Saunders told reporters today, adding that the team views those three players as the franchise's cornerstones (Twitter links via T-Wolves PR). Saunders also confirmed that Pek's contract doesn't include any team or player options, tweets Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune.
- About 15 months before they ultimately landed Howard, the Rockets reached a tentative agreement to acquire the All-Star center from the Magic at 2012's trade deadline, according to Ken Berger of CBSSports.com. Orlando planned to move D12 at the deadline if he didn't waive his early termination option, and had offers from the Rockets and Nets — Magic officials preferred Houston's offer, says Berger.
- Agent Justin Zanik, who has worked with Andy Miller at ASM Sports in recent years, is set to join the Jazz front office as the team's assistant GM, reports Jeff Goodman of CBSSports.com (Twitter links). Jody Genessy of the Deseret News has a few more details on the hiring of Zanik, who represented NBA players such as Omer Asik, Timofey Mozgov, and Sergey Karasev.
- Cole Aldrich worked out for Sacramento on Monday, according to Jonathan Santiago and James Ham of Cowbell Kingdom. The Kings have an open roster spot, though it's interesting that they'd need to work out Aldrich, considering they got an extended look at the big man last year after acquiring him at the trade deadline.