Created: 07/08/2013 8:29 AM KSTP.com
By: Darren Wolfson
Minnesota Timberwolves president of basketball operations Flip Saunders and music duo Daft Punk have something in common: they're both up all night to get lucky.
The latest move by Saunders was extending a formal contract offer to restricted free agent center Nikola Pekovic, according to a source with direct knowledge.
As has been written in this space for weeks, Pekovic is expected to remain with the Timberwolves.
The same source said while unrestricted free agent forward Andrei Kirilenko's camp is pushing for a sign-and-trade, the more likely scenario has the Wolves renouncing his rights.
The Wolves will hold a news conference mid-week to announce the signing of Kevin Martin, maybe the best free agent acquisition in their history. Martin's former team, Oklahoma City, has interest in a sign-and-trade. But the source indicated that an outright signing of Martin is more likely. But discussions are expected to continue Monday.
The Wolves will also maintain dialogue with free agent small forward Alan Anderson. But according to a source, they are talking trade with a couple teams. The source didn't tip his hand too much, but a connection to Saunders' or Adelman's past was dropped.
The goal now is to find a defensive-minded wing. Finding a taker for either guards Luke Ridnour or J.J. Barea is also a priority. Head coach Rick Adelman is said to be a bigger fan of Ridnour's, making a Barea move more likely.
But with one more year on his deal, there's more interest in Ridnour. A league source said Dallas had some interest in taking on Barea's contract. But that was before they signed free agent guards Jose Calderon and Devin Harris. They also gave Israeli free agent point guard Gal Mekel a three-year guaranteed deal.
Before the Wolves waived center Greg Stiemsma on Sunday, the source said that he was offered to every team. Not one was willing to offer anything of even minimal substance.
While Stiemsma's camp holds out hope of a return, the safer bet is that the Wolves will move on. They would only consider re-signing him at the lowest possible salary, according to a source. It seems that he'll be able to do slightly better elsewhere, especially with a new agent, Mark Bartelstein, leading the charge.
Free agent guard Chauncey Billups and his agent, Andy Miller, have received a call from the Wolves. Finding a defensive-minded wing seems to be taking precedence. If Billups remains available after all the other moves, the Wolves could circle back.
One remaining possibility to get minutes at the small forward spot is Derrick Williams. The source said there's a far better chance he starts the year with the Wolves. His value is not particularly high. Williams is said to be losing more weight in an effort to defend wings better.
From the land of the obvious: a new regime has new philosophies. Barring an unforeseen health catastrophe, point guard Ricky Rubio will get the maximum five-year contract extension offer next summer, the first time he's eligible to sign.
Saunders still plans on hiring a general manager at some point this summer. Wizards vice president of personnel Milt Newton was considered a front-runner.
According a source close to Newton, it appears as if he'll be staying with Washington. The source heard that Saunders is likely to promote internally. That person could be Rob Babcock, the former Toronto general manager. He was muted by ex-boss David Kahn, and in fact tried to land the Hamline basketball coaching job. But since Saunders rejoined the organization, he's been given a lot more responsibility.
It also appears that Wolves director of personnel R.J. Adelman will stay put. Two sources earlier this summer said he was a candidate for a job on new Philadelphia president of operations Sam Hinkie's staff. They worked together in Houston.
The Wolves will sign first round picks Shabazz Muhammad and Gorgui Dieng in the coming days. They will take part in the Wolves' summer league camp at the practice facility this week before heading to Las Vegas for games. Last year's second round pick, Robbie Hummel, is also among the players who'll take part. The same goes for forward/center Chris Johnson, who has a guaranteed contract for 2013-14. Top European prospect Nemanja Bjelica is not taking part, according to his agent.
The Wolves never inquired about free agent guard Marco Belinelli and free agent forward Al-Farouq Aminu.