Minnesota’s Moves May be Telling
Some interesting developments have taken place today in Minnesota.
The Wolves have agreed to terms with two centers: free agent Darko Milicic and 2008 second-round draft pick Nikola Pekovic.
Milicic agreed to a rather eye-popping 4-year, $20 million contract. Just five months ago, the seven-footer wasn’t getting any floor time, and was seriously contemplating giving up on the NBA to return to Europe. Pekovic has a verbal agreement in place on a 3-year, $13 million contract. He has played for Greek powerhouse Panathinaikos for the past two seasons, staking his claim as one of the best centers not in the NBA. The deal, as reported, could be the most lucrative rookie contract for a second-round pick in NBA history, though it doesn’t seem particularly unreasonable.
In and of themselves, these additions are of no particular interest in South Florida. When combined, however, they are sure to raise an eyebrow or two.
If you recall, the Wolves are the team whose general manager, David Kahn, was reported to have a strong interest in Michael Beasley. In fact, Kahn confirmed on Sunday that he had previously contacted the Heat about trading for Beasley. The deal would have sent Beasley to the Wolves in exchange for Ryan Gomes.
The Wolves entered free agency with as much as $16,433,494 of available cap space at current salary cap projections. If we assume Milicic’s first year salary is $4,319,654 (based on the annual 10.5% raises he’d be eligible for) and Pekovic’s is $4,000,000 (based on the annual 8.0% raises he’d be eligible for), Minnesota will have reduced its total cap space to $8,113,840. However, the team also holds draft rights to Ricky Rubio, at a cost of $2,812,200, which it is not about to just throw away. Therefore, if the above assumptions are correct, after these two trades the Wolves will have a grand total of $5,301,640 in available and unencumbered cap space.
Guess whose salary that is just enough to accommodate?
Michael Beasley is set to make $4,962,240.
Is it possible that Minnesota is saving up just enough money to take on Beasley? Is it possible that a deal with Pat Riley and the Heat is already in place?
Of course, this is just wild speculation. But it is original. And the numbers sure seem oddly accommodating.