Typically, it doesn't take long after free agency opens for the offseason's biggest available names to come off the board. Chris Paul reached an agreement with the Clippers almost immediately on July 1st, while even Dwight Howard had finalized his decision just five days into July.
However, the player receiving the third-most guaranteed money among 2013's free agents, Nikola Pekovic, didn't agree to terms with the Timberwolves until yesterday. Despite not having to compete with many rival suitors, the Wolves went to five years and $60MM for their big center, making him the summer's highest-paid restricted free agent. Pekovic could also earn another $8MM in potential incentives.
There's an argument to be made that the Wolves overpaid Pekovic, and were bidding against themselves. After all, the team originally wanted to make a deal in the neighborhood of four years and $48MM. Only the Sixers had the cap space available to make a similar offer, and Philadelphia certainly didn't seem to have the interest. In the end, Minnesota committed a fifth year to a 27-year-old who has had only one standout year, and has yet to play 70+ games in any of three NBA seasons.
On the other hand, talented centers in their prime aren't easy to find, and given the deals we've seen other free agent big men sign in recent years, Pekovic looks like a reasonable value. He comes at a cheaper annual rate than Roy Hibbert (four years, $58MM+) and Brook Lopez (four years, $60MM+) and is only slightly pricier than more one-dimensional centers like DeAndre Jordan (four years, $43MM+) and JaVale McGee (four years, $44MM). The Wolves wouldn't have been able to find a player of his caliber anywhere else, and by relenting and giving Pekovic the fifth year he wanted, the team avoided a repeat of its Kevin Love situation. The Wolves also didn't exceed the $12MM annual salary they initially offered.
So what do you think? Did the Wolves unnecessarily overpay to bring back Pekovic? Did they get a steal by locking up a rising star in his prime for the next five years? Or does the deal seem about right for both sides?