The Presti Precedent: How the James Harden Trade Could Affect the Timberwolves

This may not be the only time James Harden affects Nikola Pekovic.

When PDK Roundball’s Sean Highkin posted an article on how the Harden deal affects the Blazers, I thought to myself, “What? How could it? How could this even affect the Timberwolves?” And then I thought about how losing Harden could put the Wolves on a more even field with Oklahoma City and then I remembered my post about re-signing Nikola Pekovic and thought, “HOLY CRAP, NO!”

Now, I’m not here to trade all of your favorite players, but Sam Presti may have set precedent for player extensions (One that isn’t dissimilar to the one Kevin O’Connor set in Utah with Deron Williams) around the league, and the Wolves’ brass may have been watching.

Like the Thunder, the Wolves will be looking to extend Pekovic coming off of his rookie deal, and that won’t be cheap. It’s hard to see them getting away with anything less than eight figures, realistically. The Wolves, as I mentioned, won’t be able to do so and stay under the cap, but can go over since they have Pekovic’s Bird Rights.

But will they? After all, the Thunder didn’t, and Harden was their number three guy like Pek is here.

What’s more appealing to an owner looking to sell, and with a group of minority owners reluctant to spend in recent years: higher taxes or saving a few dollars in a trade that brings them a young player and a few picks in return? Remember, there’s what they can do, and what they’ll realistically do. Don’t tell me that they wouldn’t do that, either, because the Thunder just did that very thing with the core of a returning Finals team.

This is a situation that will have to get resolved quickly with Pek’s deal expiring at year’s end and the Harden deal fresh in everyone’s mind. Likely, how much, if at all, that influences the Timberwolves’ thinking depends on how the Thunder fare this season. If they do well, this may be the more appealing option than paying Pek two or three times as much and paying extra money in taxes. This is why the system is the way it is- to force teams to make these kind of decisions. Stern said it himself that teams are going to have to “share” players, and we’re seeing this playing out in a very short time.

Agree with me? Disagree with me? Let’s open up the conversation; @ me on Twitter (@DerekJamesNBA), or leave a comment below.

About Derek James

In addition to writing for Howlin' T-Wolf, Derek James writes about basketball Hardwood Paroxysm in the ESPN TrueHoop Network and covers the Charlotte Bobcats for SB Nation’s Rufus on Fire. Andray Blatche and Isaiah Rider follow him on Twitter.

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