WolvesBigTicket's article on Pek continues to inspire me to consider how seriously other teams will pursue Pek. Ultimately, I think Pek will re-sign with the Wolves for $8M/year. But it only takes one team to break the bank and steal him away, and that team might be in Texas.
All 3 Texan teams have three things in common - they are all 'smart' teams, have cap space, and have a need for a scoring Center. Lets start with the Mavericks.
Dallas has enough cap space for one major free agency push, and could get to two if they decline some options and give away their draft pick. They have been linked to Dwight Howard, but they also have glaring need at the guard positions. I think Chris Paul will enter the equation for the Mavs. As a Wolves fan, my hope is that Howard drags out his decision and ties up several teams cap space who would otherwise bid on centers. Also, Chris Paul signing with the Mavs quickly would make Pek too expensive to pursue for the Mavs while not creating another Pek contender as the Clips have their bigs in order. Dallas will concern me if Howard and Paul quickly re-sign in LA.
The Rockets have enough cap space to make one major push and grab a supporting guy. Conventional wisdom says the Rockets will use the spare cash on a 3 and D guy (replacing Garcia and Delfino... possibly with Garcia or Delfino - or maybe Chase!) and go after a Center - most likely Dwight Howard. If Howard falls through, the Rockets have several options. Right now Asik is the only sure big they have and pairing him with an offensive minded PF might be preferable to a Center. I think Al Jefferson, with his McHale ties, and Milsap will be seriously considered in Houston.
Last year Houston came late to the Restricted free-agent party with an offer to Jeremy Lin that was ultimately accepted, and I think Pek's situation will play out much like Lin's and at a similar price point ($8.33M/year). If Houston loses out on the unrestricted bigs and Pek is still waiting for an offer, Houston might just make him an offer the Wolves can't afford to match. However, I think the Rockets will get their man in unrestricted free agency.
San Antonio is the most difficult team to read. They usually don't spend money on free agents, though they recently have brought in expensive flops in Stephen Jackson and Richard Jefferson. While they have cap space, Manu is a free agent and re-signing him at $8M-10M (a Duncan-esque contract) would effectively take them out of Pek range. But what if San Antonio wins it all this year? Might Duncan and Manu simply go out on top? I think the Spurs will use their cash to re-sign Manu and Splitter, but if the Spurs win it all this year - things could change. So go Heat? Yuck.
A final note on the Texas teams. Pek has been rumored to all three throughout the year mainly because all 3 Texas teams are 'smart' teams and Pek is a 'smart' player (below the radar, high value, low salary guy). However, give pek an 8 figure contract and he's no longer a 'smart' player - at $10M I'd say he's a properly valued guy and at $12M he's in the over-paid big man category. Since Pek isn't as 'smart' a player at these levels, I think these 'smart' teams ignore him unless an $8M or less offer can get him from a Wolves team that somehow get's itself too close to the cap tax line.
So Pek in Texas? Probably not but we must remain vigilant!