The Timberwolves have made a formal contract offer to restricted free agent Nikola Pekovic and waived two players in preparation for Wednesday’s end to the NBA moratorium period.
According to league sources, the Wolves made an offer to Pekovic on Friday and expect to receive a response early this week.
On Sunday, they waived center Greg Stiemsma and swingman Mickael Gelabale in two salary-cap moves designed to clear space to allow them to sign free agents Kevin Martin and Chase Budinger as well as bring back Pekovic on a four-year deal that likely will be worth $12 million a year or more.
They also continue to try to trade guards J.J. Barea and/or Luke Ridnour in an attempt to create more cap space to add another two players through signing or trades.
The Wolves have the right to match any offer Pekovic receives from another team. As of Sunday, he is not believed to have been offered such a deal and the number of teams who have the cap space and desire to sign him had dwindled to one or two.
Pekovic repeatedly last season said he wanted to return to Minnesota, and President of Basketball Operations Flip Saunders has said all along that he believes the two sides will reach a deal.
The Wolves had until July 17 to waive Stiemsma or fully guarantee his $2.7 million contract on their salary-cap books for next season.
Stiemsma’s agent said there’s still a chance his client could return to the Wolves, even if they drafted Louisville center Gorgui Dieng last month to essentially fill Stiemsma’s role as a backup center.
“This was a cap move,” agent Mark Bartelstein said. “They like him. There are so many different variables right now with teams and their cap space. We’ll get through this [moratorium period] and see what happens.”