Nikola Peković (Serbian Cyrillic: Никола Пековић; born January 3, 1986) is a Montenegrin former professional basketball player and businessman who spent seven years with the Minnesota Timberwolves of the National Basketball Association (NBA). Standing at 6 ft 11 in (2.11 m), he played at the center position. A two-time All-EuroLeague selection, he represented the senior Montenegrin national basketball team.
Peković with the Timberwolves in 2011
|Born||January 3, 1986|
Bijelo Polje, SR Montenegro, SFR Yugoslavia
|Nationality||Montenegrin / Serbian|
|Listed height||6 ft 11 in (2.11 m)|
|Listed weight||307 lb (139 kg)|
|NBA draft||2008 / Round: 2 / Pick: 31st overall|
|Selected by the Minnesota Timberwolves|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Stats at NBA.com|
|Stats at Basketball-Reference.com|
After two years there, Peković joined the national champions Partizan in July 2005. With Black and Whites, he won three consecutive Basketball League of Serbia titles, two Adriatic League and Radivoj Korać Cup titles. Peković was named the MVP of the Adriatic League Final Four in 2008. The same year, he also earned an All-Euroleague Second Team selection for leading Partizan to the competition's quarterfinals.
In the summer of 2008, Peković joined the Greek champions Panathinaikos. He signed a three-year contract worth €4.5 million net income. He averaged 13.0 points and 3.8 rebounds in just over 18 minutes per contest, helping Panathinaikos win the 2008–09 EuroLeague title. Peković consequently established himself as one of Europe's elite centers, being voted to the All-EuroLeague First Team. With PAO, he also won two Greek League titles and the 2009 Greek Cup.
Minnesota Timberwolves (2010–2017)Edit
Peković was selected with the 31st overall pick in the 2008 NBA draft by the Minnesota Timberwolves. Many draft experts considered him a top 10 pick, but due to his contract situation with his team in Europe, he was selected much lower. He was considered a lock to be drafted with the first pick of the second round because players selected in the second round are not subject to the rookie scale contracts of the first round. This meant that the team that drafted him would be able to pay him more than those players selected later in the first round. Due to the amount of money Peković was making in Europe already, he likely would not have made the jump to the NBA for the amount of money that could be paid to a late first round player.
Rookie season (2010–2011)Edit
On June 30, 2010, two years after being drafted, Peković signed a three-year, $13 million contract with the Timberwolves. As a rookie in the NBA in 2010–11, Peković averaged 5.5 points and 3.0 rebounds per game.
On August 16, 2011, Peković signed a contract to play for his former team Partizan until the end of the 2011 NBA lockout. In 7 Euroleague games with Partizan, he led the team averaging 15.4 points and 4.6 rebounds. As the NBA lockout ended on December 8, 2011, he had to return to the United States.
Rise to prominence (2011–2014)Edit
The 2011–12 shortened NBA season started on December 25, 2011. Upon returning to Minnesota, through January 2012, Peković stepped in for an injured Darko Miličić as the starting center for the Timberwolves. He finished the 2011–12 season with 13.9 points and 7.4 rebounds in 26.9 minutes per game. In voting for the Most Improved Player, Peković finished third behind Orlando's Ryan Anderson and Milwaukee's Ersan İlyasova.
During the 2012–13 NBA season, Peković cemented his position of starting center and with team's superstar Kevin Love, led the Timberwolves frontcourt. With 31-51 record, it was the first season since Kevin Garnett's departure that the Timberwolves won more than 30 regular season games. Peković averaged 16.3 points and career-high 8.8 rebounds per game.
On August 14, 2013, Peković re-signed with the Timberwolves to a five-year, $60 million deal. On January 27, 2014, he suffered an ankle injury that hindered him for the rest of the season; he played only 10 games until the end of the season. The 2013–14 season for the Timberwolves was even more successful than previous as they managed to win 40 games. Over the season, Peković averaged a career-high 17.5 points and 8.7 rebounds over 54 regular season games.
In August 2014, the Timberwolves traded Love in a three-team trade receiving Andrew Wiggins, starting the new era of the franchise.
Injury-plagued seasons (2014–2017)Edit
During the 2014–15 season, Peković managed to play only 31 games due to a right ankle injury, averaging 12.5 points per game. On April 8, 2015, Peković had surgery on his right Achilles tendon in hopes of addressing the pain in his bothersome right foot. The departure of Love, Peković's absence from the court and other factors resulted in the worst league record of 16–66 for the Timberwolves. Eventually the Timberwolves won the draft lottery and selected Karl-Anthony Towns with the first overall pick, strengthening their core of young talented players in Wiggins and Zach LaVine.
Entering his third season of a new contract, Peković was still enduring chronically sore ankles and Achilles. He made his season debut for the Timberwolves on January 6, 2016, playing for the first time since March 11, 2015. In 16 minutes of action off the bench, he scored 12 points in a loss to the Denver Nuggets. Over the season, he appeared in just 12 games, averaging career lows of 4.5 points and 1.8 rebounds.
On September 25, 2016, Peković was ruled out for the entire 2016–17 season due to recurring right ankle pain. At the time, it appeared unlikely Peković would ever return to the court with the Timberwolves. On June 20, 2017, following the conclusion of the 2016–17 season, Peković was waived by the Timberwolves.
National team careerEdit
Serbia and Montenegro junior national teamEdit
While playing with the youth national teams of Serbia and Montenegro, Peković received the bronze medal at the 2005 European Under-20 Championship, in Russia. He also won the gold medal with his generation at the 2006 tournament, which was held in Turkey.
Montenegro national teamEdit
Peković represented the senior Montenegrin national team at the EuroBasket 2011, which was held in Lithuania. Over 5 tournament games, he averaged 13.0 points and 6.4 rebounds per game, as Montenegro finished the tournament after being eliminated after the first phase.
|GP||Games played||GS||Games started||MPG||Minutes per game|
|FG%||Field-goal percentage||3P%||3-point field-goal percentage||FT%||Free-throw percentage|
|RPG||Rebounds per game||APG||Assists per game||SPG||Steals per game|
|BPG||Blocks per game||PPG||Points per game||PIR||Performance Index Rating|
|†||Denotes seasons in which Peković won the EuroLeague|
In September 2015, Peković accepted an offer by the Board of Directors of Partizan Belgrade to be the team's next president, following the resignation of Sasha Danilović, in late August. Soon after taking the position, he named Petar Božić the club's new head coach, thus not offering Duško Vujošević a new contract. On June 14, 2017, he resigned from the position.
Peković is an ethnic Serb and a Serbian Orthodox Christian. He spends his off-seasons in Serbia, (particularly in Zlatibor), where he has built an apartment house, as well as in Belgrade. He has several Serb-themed tattoos, including the Battle of Kosovo and the Serbian cross.
Peković is connected to several underworld figures, most notably Montenegrin drug lord Darko Šarić who has been held in custody since 2011. Šarić has been on trial for drug smuggling from Latin America to Europe. Peković has numerous business investments with Šarić in Serbia and Montenegro. In October 2018, Peković took over 1.15-million-euro debt of Darko Šarić's brother.
- "Pokoriti Evropu" (in Serbian). Blic.rs. April 30, 2009. Retrieved February 20, 2013.
- "Panathinaikos inks Pekovic, brings back Fotsis". Euroleague.net. June 24, 2008. Retrieved February 20, 2013.
- "Tribute to the champs, Panathinaikos: Nikola Pekovic!". Euroleague.net. May 22, 2009. Retrieved February 20, 2013.
- "Sources: Pekovic's deal worth $13M". ESPN.com. June 30, 2010. Retrieved February 20, 2013.
- "Partizan brings former All-Euroleaguer Pekovic home". Euroleague.net. August 16, 2011. Retrieved February 20, 2013.
- "Timberwolves Reach Agreement in Principle with Restricted Free-Agent Center Nikola Pekovic". NBA.com. August 14, 2013. Retrieved August 14, 2013.
- Zgoda, Jerry (August 14, 2013). "It's done: Pek agrees to 5-year, $60M deal". StarTribune.com. Retrieved August 14, 2013.
- "Roster Review - Nikola Pekovic". Minnesota Timberwolves. NBA.
- "Minnesota Timberwolves center Nikola Pekovic undergoes surgery on right Achilles tendon". ESPN.
- "Gallinari, Nuggets snap 6-game skid with win over Wolves". Game Story. NBA. 2016-01-06. Archived from the original on 2016-01-08. Retrieved 2016-01-07.
- "NIKOLA PEKOVIC INJURY UPDATE". NBA.com. September 25, 2016. Retrieved September 25, 2016.
- Hellin, Kurt (21 September 2016). "Tom Thibodeau doesn't expect Nikola Pekovic to play in training camp". nbcsports.com. Retrieved 21 September 2016.
- "TIMBERWOLVES WAIVE CENTER NIKOLA PEKOVIC". NBA.com. June 20, 2017. Retrieved June 20, 2017.
- Maloney, Jack (20 June 2017). "Minnesota Timberwolves waive oft-injured big man Nikola Pekovic". cbssports.com. Retrieved 20 June 2017.
- "Peković od utorka na čelu Partizana". mondo.rs (in Serbian). 7 September 2015. Retrieved 6 October 2015.
- "Božić novi trener Partizana!". b92.net (in Serbian). 8 September 2015. Retrieved 6 October 2015.
- "Nikola Peković podneo ostavku!". b92.net (in Serbian). 14 June 2017. Retrieved 14 June 2017.
- "Peković tim menadžer reprezentacije Crne Gore". b92.net. Retrieved 10 January 2020.
- "SA TRI PRSTA: Nikola Peković nagovorio igrače Minesote da se slikaju kao Srbi". Kurir sport. Kurir.
- "Nikola Peković: Priželjkujem da se skrasim, ali sam dosta komplikovan". Intervju. Hello! magazin.
- "Peković istetovirao Boj na Kosovu, Amerikanci se čude tetovaži sa motivom bitke koju je srpska vojska izgubila". Sport. Novosti.
- "SA TRI PRSTA: Nikola Peković nagovorio igrače Minesote da se slikaju kao Srbi". Kurir sport. Kurir.
- Jovićević, Mihailo (28 November 2017). "PEKOVIĆEV BIZNIS U SENCI ŠARIĆEVOG KLANA Poznati košarkaš ulaže MILIONE u sumnjive poslove, a pomaže mu KUM". blic.rs (in Serbian). Retrieved 29 November 2017.
- "Nikola Peković preuzeo milionske dugove brata Darka Šarića". b92.net (in Serbian). 31 October 2018. Retrieved 31 October 2018.
- Stroggylakis, Antonis (October 10, 2020). "Nikola Pekovic hospitalized with coronavirus". eurohoops.net. Retrieved October 10, 2020.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Nikola Peković.|