Veteran Timberwolves center Nikola Pekovic has been ruled out for the season, and now has admitted that retirement may be in the cards for him. Pekovic, who will turn 31 next week, acknowledged during a press conference in Serbia that his health issues could make it impossible for him to return to the court, according to a Mondo.rs report (translation via Emiliano Carchia of Sportando).
“For two years I have struggled with this injury,” Pekovic said of his troublesome ankle and Achilles. “I have been mentally exhausted. This year I went to Minneapolis for two months and I did everything possible to return to the court, but there are times when you simply can’t. I can’t run without pain.”
Pekovic had a couple very productive seasons for the Timberwolves in 2012/13 and 2013/14, averaging 16.9 PPG and 8.7 RPG in 116 games during that stretch. However, he has long been plagued by injuries, having never appeared in more than 65 games in a season. Last year, Pekovic played just 12 times before being shut down, and before training camp this year, Wolves owner Glen Taylor confirmed that the veteran big man wouldn’t play for the team in 2016/17, though he remains on the 15-man roster.
The Wolves are currently on the hook for $12.1MM this season for Pekovic, and $11.6MM in 2017/18. However, the situation is somewhat similar to Chris Bosh‘s in Miami. As of January 31, if Pekovic is ruled medically ineligible to play by a doctor jointly approved by the NBA and NBPA, the team could get salary cap relief for his contract. Pekovic would still earn the remaining salary on his contract, but Minnesota would be able to wipe the deal from its books for cap purposes.
For now, there’s no rush for either side to make a final decision, but as January 31 nears, we’ll likely get a better idea of what the plan is for Pekovic and the Wolves.