Five months before he becomes a restricted free agent, Timberwolves center Nikola Pekovic is becoming Minnesotan.

The big fellow from Montenegro will spend part of his precious All-Star break ice fishing with friends on Lake Mille Lacs.

Could that possibly be a sign he's becoming one of us and might stay in Minnesota for the long run?

"For now, it's just ice fishing," he said. "I know nothing about that."

The Wolves could decide to trade Pekovic -- either by the Feb. 21 trade deadline or more likely in a sign-and-trade deal next summer -- if they decide he's not worth the $12 million or more another team might offer him come July 1.

He was asked Wednesday if he has been assured he won't be traded by the upcoming deadline.

"I don't even think about it," said Pekovic, who can't sign with anyone until July 1. "Nobody's telling me nothing about it. I don't know how to answer that question. That's not in my power that I can choose or not choose.

"I like to stay here. That's the only thing I'm whole time saying. I can't really do nothing. My agent, the guys from here, they're going to talk about it. I just do my job, that's all I need to do."

So for now ... it's just ice fishing. Is he worried that the ice might not hold him?

"It's 3 feet," he said. "If the cabin can be there, then I can be there probably."

J.J. plays on

Guard J.J. Barea played through that sore sprained foot again Wednesday, just as he had struggling to move effectively with it in nearly 15 minutes in Cleveland on Monday. He had six points and six assists in 24 minutes as the Wolves lost to the Jazz 97-93.

Barea is planning some intensive rehab over the All-Star break.

"Go to Puerto Rico, put it in some hot water, hot sand and I'll be back ready to go," said Barea, who said he was scheduled on a 1:30 a.m. flight out right after the game.

Dr. Kirilenko's prognosis

Small forward Andrei Kirilenko missed his fifth consecutive game because of a strained quad, but predicted he will be back after the break.

"I'm feeling pretty good," he said. "Not tonight, but I bet I'll be ready by All-Star break. It's not there yet, but it's very close."

Kirilenko sat out against the Jazz, a team for which he played 10 seasons and still follows from afar.

"You know, I'm still searching like websites for results and after [looking for] Minnesota, I always go to the Jazz," he said. "Ten years playing on the same team, it's a big deal."


• Former Wolves star Al Jefferson grew up in Mississippi and brought his love for a certain pastime with him to Minnesota for three seasons. "I love fishing, but on the ice?" he said. "No, no, no. No thank you."

• Kevin Love says he hopes to get doctor's clearance to begin dribbling with that surgically repaired right shooting hand when he returns next week after the All-Star break.

• Wolves player development coach Shawn Respert worked out Oak Grove's Nicholas Vandenburgh, who will represent Minnesota Special Olympians during a game featuring other Special Olympians, WNBA stars and former NBA stars on All-Star Sunday in Houston. Vandenburgh, a Special Olympics "global messenger" trained in public speaking, will play on a team with Lynx guard Candice Wiggins, Chris Mullin and Detlef Schrempf.

• Ricky Rubio and Alexey Shved leave Thursday to play in Friday night's Rising Stars Challenge, which kicks off All-Star Weekend festivities.

• Wolves coach Rick Adelman has high expectations for the healing power of the All-Star break. "I'm sure [when] we get back after these four days, Chase [Budinger] will be OK and Kevin will be OK and great things are going to happen," Adelman said.