"I think there has to be a meeting of the minds of getting all people together and really getting a good plan and good format that players are doing the right thing and they're not over-training parts of their body," Saunders said.
Negotiations with Pekovic's agent Jeff Schwartz dragged on for about a month and a half before Saunders added the fifth year on Tuesday to get the deal done. All of a sudden, Pekovic had gone from an unknown big man who appeared lost at times during his rookie season to a $60 million centerpiece of a franchise's quest for redemption.
"My agent asked me when we closed the deal, he asked me how do you feel," Pekovic said. "I said I still don't know. I still feel like unbelievable. I came like three years ago and I was basically not even a backup center, nothing. I was kind of fighting for my position. ... I know that I was really fighting and pushing for this. I'm really happy that all this happened."
He also made it clear to Schwartz from the day the market opened on July 1 that he wanted to remain in Minnesota. While many other players have left smaller markets for more glamorous locales, Pekovic has warmed to Minnesota's icy climate and feels at home while fishing on one of the state's 10,000 lakes.
"People asked me, where do you want to live," Pekovic said. "I don't want to go to a bigger city. I just like it here. I like everything. I know it's a little cold in the winter but you just get used (to it.). It's my fourth year here. I'm basically a Minneapolis guy."
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