Kirilenko opts out; Wolves have more cash for free agency

  • Article by: JERRY ZGODA , Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 30, 2013 - 12:20 AM

Andrei Kirilenko opted out, so now the Wolves boss has more money to throw at a shooting guard.

hide

Andrei Kirilenko, center.

 

Timberwolves President of Basketball Operations Flip Saunders heads out of town on a late-night shopping spree Sunday with extra cash in his wallet after Andrei Kirilenko on Saturday turned down a $10.2 million salary for next season.

Kirilenko’s agent said his client will not exercise a player option for next season on a two-year, $20 million contract he signed with the Wolves last summer. Instead, he will become a free agent able to sign a multi-year contract with any NBA team, including the Wolves, by letting a midnight Saturday deadline pass. He is believed to be seeking at age 32 at least a new three-year deal.

That means Saunders could have $7 million or more a year to sign the legitimately sized and skilled shooting guard that Thursday’s wild draft did not deliver, in addition to re-signing his own free agents Nikola Pekovic and Chase Budinger.

Saunders calls those two Timberwolves — Pekovic is a restricted free agent, Budinger unrestricted — his top priorities when the NBA’s negotiating period begins at 11:01 p.m. Sunday (Central time). But he is expected to be knocking on other players’ doors at the opening bell, quite possibly on the front porch of Dallas unrestricted free agent O.J. Mayo.

Just don’t ask him where he’s going. This is supposed to be top-secret, spy stuff.

“I’m not saying where I’m going,” Saunders said. “You won’t even find out on my Twitter account anymore.”

Saunders has sworn off his Twitter habit after Thursday’s draft, a night in which all three shooting guards he sought were gone by the Wolves’ No. 9 pick so he improvised by making a 2-for-1 deal with Utah that brought UCLA swingman Shabazz Muhammad and Louisville center Gorgui Dieng to Minnesota.

Now he will turn his attention to finding that shooting guard — Mayo as well as unrestricted free agents J.J. Redick, Kevin Martin and Kyle Korver all could be on his list — through some free-agent spending while also possibly searching for a starting small forward to replace Kirilenko through a trade.

“We’re going to be very active in both free agency and trades,” Saunders said.

His most important task is re-signing Pekovic, the Wolves’ bruising center who just might be one of the top targets leaguewide when the negotiating period begins.

Teams can reach agreement with free agents any time after the clock strikes midnight in New York City, but they can’t officially sign anyone until the league moratorium ends July 10.

By then, Pekovic could have signed a very rich contract — a maximum four-year, $55 million-ish deal — with another team if the Wolves can’t reach a deal with him first. If he does sign an offer with another team, the Wolves have three days then to match the offer for a physical player who has missed 17 or more games in his each of his first three NBA seasons because of nagging injuries.

The Wolves have the final right to sign Pekovic and can offer him five years guaranteed while other teams can only offer four, a distinction that might offend teammate Kevin Love. Or they could strike a deal for a sign-and-trade with another team if the price gets too rich. They have no such rights with Budinger, but Saunders said he believes the team can sign a favorite of coach Rick Adelman who will likely see his salary bumped from $942,000 last season to more than $3 million despite a knee injury that sidelined him four months last winter.

Pekovic said repeatedly last season that he likes the Wolves organization, likes Minnesota and wants to return.

“I’ll be back,” Pekovic said in early April as the season wound down. “I like the guys, we have a lot of potential. We show we can play, but we have a problem with injuries. I’m thinking a lot about our future.”

A team such as Cleveland or Portland could offer Pekovic the maximum and force the Wolves to swallow hard and match. One important thing to remember, too: His agent, Jeff Schwartz, negotiated Al Jefferson’s five-year, $65 million contract with the Wolves in 2007 and Love’s four-year, $61 million-plus deal in 2012 that remains something of a sore spot with Love.

Asked then if his decision ultimately won’t simply come down to money, Pekovic said: “I don’t know what to say about that. My job is to play basketball. I think I did my job good. Now it’s their part. It’s really something that is their part. I did my part of the job. It’s also my decision, of course, but now it’s their part of the job, too.”

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Chicago WSox - S. Carroll 12:05 PM
NY Yankees - H. Kuroda
Tampa Bay - J. Hellickson 12:07 PM
Toronto - M. Buehrle
Detroit - B. Farmer 12:10 PM
Minnesota - Y. Pino
Seattle - C. Young 12:35 PM
Boston - B. Workman
Baltimore - B. Norris 1:20 PM
Chicago Cubs - K. Hendricks
San Francisco - T. Lincecum 3:05 PM
Washington - J. Zimmermann
Houston - C. McHugh 6:05 PM
Cleveland - D. Salazar
St. Louis - S. Miller 6:05 PM
Philadelphia - D. Buchanan
Atlanta - E. Santana 6:10 PM
Cincinnati - M. Leake
Pittsburgh - E. Volquez 6:10 PM
Milwaukee - W. Peralta
San Diego - A. Cashner 7:10 PM
Arizona - V. Nuno
Miami - T. Koehler 7:10 PM
Colorado - J. Lyles
Detroit - J. Verlander 7:10 PM
Minnesota - T. May
Kansas City - J. Guthrie 7:25 PM
Texas - N. Tepesch
LA Angels - C. Wilson 8:05 PM
Oakland - J. Lester
NY Mets - J. deGrom 8:10 PM
Los Angeles - Z. Greinke
Carolina 7 FINAL
New England 30
NY Giants 35 FINAL
NY Jets 24
Jacksonville 12 FINAL
Detroit 13
Oakland 21 FINAL
Green Bay 31
Chicago 6 FINAL
Seattle 34
Tampa Bay 3:30 PM
Buffalo
Tennessee 6:00 PM
Atlanta
Dallas 6:00 PM
Miami
Washington 6:30 PM
Baltimore
New Orleans 7:00 PM
Indianapolis
Minnesota 7:00 PM
Kansas City
St. Louis 7:00 PM
Cleveland
Houston 8:00 PM
Denver
San Diego 8/24/14 3:00 PM
San Francisco
Cincinnati 8/24/14 7:00 PM
Arizona
Atlanta 8/28/14 5:00 PM
Jacksonville
Detroit 8/28/14 6:00 PM
Buffalo
Indianapolis 8/28/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Kansas City 8/28/14 6:00 PM
Green Bay
NY Jets 8/28/14 6:00 PM
Philadelphia
St. Louis 8/28/14 6:00 PM
Miami
Carolina 8/28/14 6:30 PM
Pittsburgh
New England 8/28/14 6:30 PM
NY Giants
Washington 8/28/14 6:30 PM
Tampa Bay
Baltimore 8/28/14 7:00 PM
New Orleans
Chicago 8/28/14 7:00 PM
Cleveland
Denver 8/28/14 7:00 PM
Dallas
Minnesota 8/28/14 7:00 PM
Tennessee
San Francisco 8/28/14 7:00 PM
Houston
Arizona 8/28/14 9:00 PM
San Diego
Seattle 8/28/14 9:00 PM
Oakland
(21) Texas A&M 8/28/14 5:00 PM
(9) So Carolina
Wake Forest 8/28/14 6:00 PM
ULM
Boise State 8/28/14 7:00 PM
(18) Ole Miss
Tulane 8/28/14 7:00 PM
Tulsa
Temple 8/28/14 8:15 PM
Vanderbilt
Rutgers 8/28/14 9:00 PM
Washington St
Weber State 8/28/14 9:30 PM
(19) Arizona State
BYU 8/29/14 6:00 PM
Connecticut
(6) Jacksonville St 8/29/14 6:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Bowling Green 8/29/14 6:30 PM
Western Ky
TX-San Antonio 8/29/14 8:00 PM
Houston
Colorado State 8/29/14 8:00 PM
Colorado
UNLV 8/29/14 9:30 PM
Arizona
UCF 8/30/14 7:30 AM
Penn State
Chicago 6:00 PM
Toronto FC
Montreal 6:00 PM
Red Bull New York
Chivas USA 6:30 PM
New England
Houston 6:30 PM
Columbus
D.C. 7:30 PM
Sporting Kansas City
Vancouver FC 9:30 PM
Los Angeles
Montreal 16 FINAL
Winnipeg 24
Toronto 3:00 PM
Edmonton
Calgary 8/24/14 2:00 PM
Ottawa
Saskatchewan 8/24/14 6:00 PM
Brt Columbia
Ottawa 8/29/14 6:30 PM
Montreal
Winnipeg 8/31/14 2:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Toronto 9/1/14 12:00 PM
Hamilton
Edmonton 9/1/14 3:30 PM
Calgary
Indiana 4:00 PM
Washington
Minnesota 6:00 PM
San Antonio
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How do you like the Kevin Love trade?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close