Report: Wolves Bringing Nikola Pekovic to NBA
Pekovic has played for Greek powerhouse Panathinaikos for two seasons, making his name as one of the best centers not in the NBA. He helped lead the star-studded Panathinaikos squad to a 2009 Euroleague title, landing on the competition's All-Pro team.
The deal as reported by far could be the most lucrative rookie contract for a second-round pick in NBA history. Luis Scola, a 2002 second-round pick of the Spurs who remained in Spain until his NBA rights were traded to the Rockets in 2007, signed an NBA rookie deal worth $9.5 million over three years, believed to be a record amount. Pekovic's reported deal would outstrip that figure handily.
Second-round picks are not subject to the rookie salary scale first-round picks are assigned to. Pekovic became a second-round pick only because teams did not believe the salary scale for first-round picks would allow the center to leave Europe, where he was already being paid handsomely. Pekovic's Panathinaikos contract paid him nearly $2 million after taxes and housing.
Pekovic could very well be a starter for Minnesota, who, in addition to power forwards Al Jefferson and Kevin Love, has only center Ryan Hollins on the frontline. The Wolves are reportedly looking to bring Serbian center Darko Milicic back after his short stint with the team last spring. Darko had previously held he would return to Europe this summer unless given a starting job in the NBA.
Pekovic's Montenegro split with Milicic's Serbia in 2006; to my knowledge, the two have never played international ball together.