The Wild traded for ex-Gopher Jordan Leopold today before the deadline in a move designed to bolster their defensive group.
You could choose to believe that the seeds of the trade were planted during some conversation between execs with the Wild and Columbus, but WE CHOOSE TO BELIEVE IT WAS SOMETHING DIFFERENT.
We’re going to believe it was all thanks to a letter Leopold’s daughter sent the Wild, apparently sometime this season, basically begging them to bring her dad home.
Here’s the letter, as tweeted by KFAN:
Leopold’s 11 Year old daughter wrote the @MNWild a letter pleading for trade…AND IT WORKED! http://t.co/C4ctmymTZp pic.twitter.com/Nkvrm59X4C
— KFAN1003 (@KFAN1003) March 2, 2015
General Manager Rick Spielman said this morning at the University of Minnesota’s pro day that the Vikings have spoken to running back Adrian Peterson since last Thursday and that they plan to continue to have an “open dialogue” with Peterson while he is on the commissioner’s exempt list.
“We are able to have communication now with Adrian,” Spielman said. “We’ll keep all those communications internal. I don’t want to give you guys a blow-by-blow [account] every day. I think it’s been very clearly stated that we want to have Adrian Peterson back. There’s no question about the talent. He’s a unique talent and he’s under contract with us next year.”
The Vikings were only allowed to speak with Peterson through their legal team while he was serving his NFL suspension. But last Thursday, the league placed Peterson on the exempt list after a federal judge overturned an NFL arbitrator’s ruling on Peterson’s appeal of his suspension. Per league rules, the Vikings can now speak with Peterson, something Spielman called “beneficial.”
Spielman was asked about Peterson’s comment two weeks ago about feeling “uneasy” about potentially returning to the Vikings and whether there is a “rift” between the player and the team.
“I’m not going to get into anything on that front,” said Spielman, who later added, “I can tell you that we’re going to have and we have open communication with him and we’ll just leave all those discussions between us and Adrian.”
Nikola Pekovic has never played more than 65 games in a season. When the Wolves signed him to a five-year, $60 million contract extension in the summer of 2013, the motivation was two-fold:
1) They thought they were building a contender around Kevin Love, and offensively Love and Pek worked very well together. So in order to convince Love to stick around, and without other options at center, they couldn’t afford to let Pek walk.
2) They were hoping Pek would stay healthy enough — maybe missing 15 games a year — to justify the expense because, when healthy, he is a productive (albeit unique) post player.
Since signing that extension, Pek has played 81 of the Wolves’ 140 games. We would bank on that number staying at 81 for a while, now that Pekovic’s bothersome ankle problem has flared up again.
Last year, his 54 games were productive: 17.5 ppg, 8.7 rpg and 54.1 percent shooting from the field. You could almost live with him doing that and only playing two-thirds of the games for the life of the contract.
This year, those numbers — without Love spreading the floor and giving him more room to work down low — have dipped to 13.2 ppg and 7.8 rpg on a dismal 42.9 percent shooting. His health problems seem to be limiting his mobility, to the point that he’s a candidate to have his shot blocked on every post-up or putback.
He just turned 29, so this should be the prime of his career. But he’s also a giant man who puts a lot of pressure on those poor ankles and feet. There is a nagging suspicion that — without Love and with those injuries — this is close to the version of Pek we are destined to see for the life of the contract (another three years, at roughly $12 million per year, after this season).
And that would create a two-fold problem: First, that’s a lot of money and years left for a player who might not fit into the team’s current style and whose production has diminished. Second, it potentially puts the Wolves in an awkward spot if they get one of the top two picks in this year’s draft and have a shot at an elite college big man because that player, plus Pek, plus Gorgui Dieng would be quite a logjam at center.
Our best guess is the Wolves would still take an elite big man if they got that chance, and then try to move Pekovic to another team. To do that, though, they would probably have to take back another big contract.
Unless Pek makes a magical transformation and can return to even his 2013-14 production level, his is the one contract you look at, long-term with the Wolves, and cringe at. It won’t kill them, cap-wise, but it will weigh them down.
Eddie Guardado’s renewed relationship with his first team is different from many other’s. He turned himself into an All-Star closer, became emblematic of their overachieving teams of that era and sometimes butted heads with General Manager Terry Ryan.