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Blazers will have to choose between Batum, Wallace

Jan 12, 2012, 8:53 PM EDT

Dirk Nowitzki, Nicolas Batum, Gerald Wallace

From Kerry Eggers of the Portland Tribune:

The Blazers have until Jan. 25 to extend the rookie contract of Batum, 23, who is making a pro-rated $2.16 million this season and would be due a qualifying offer of $3.17 million as a restricted free agent next season. If the deadline passes without a deal, the Blazers can extend him beginning July 1, match an offer from another team or let him go.

Wallace, 29, is making $9.5 million this season and can opt out of a contract that calls for him to make $9.5 million again next season. The 6-7, 11-year veteran won’t say much about his feelings on the possibility of an opt-out.

As Eggers notes, Marcus Camby, Greg Oden, and Raymond Felton will all be free agents after this season, and if Wallace opts out, it could cost a combined $17 million or more to keep both of the team’s small forwards on the team next season.

This will not be an easy off-season decision for the Blazers, as it comes down to a classic case of production vs. potential. Wallace has had a tremendous impact for the Blazers ever since he was traded from the Bobcats, and currently leads the team in unadjusted +/-. If the Blazers let him walk, they will almost certainly suffer in the short-term. However, Wallace has a nasty injury history, has earned his nickname of “crash,” and is about to hit the big 3-0, which would make a lot of GMs hesitate to commit to him long-term, especially since Wallace’s game has always been more about energy and athleticism than outside shooting and passing, which are two qualities players tend to keep as they head into their 30s and lose their athleticism.

Batum, meanwhile, is shooting below 40% from the floor this season, but he’s 23, long, athletic, a great defender, and has a great three-point stroke, which is why he’s been all but untouchable for the Blazers for some time now.

The Blazers are currently having their cake and eating it too, but that won’t last long — at some point, likely this off-season, they’ll have to choose between Wallace’s production and Batum’s potential when making a long-term decision.

  1. goforthanddie - Jan 12, 2012 at 9:48 PM

    Crash has already said he’s opting out, but he does like it here. Batum’s better than his numbers, hasn’t peaked, and would be cheaper.
    Nice problem to have. Our center issue isn’t.
    Camby’s being himself so far, which is perfectly fine. He’s also going to show his age at some point. Wonder if he’d consider a player/asst. coach kinda thing. Draft a C and give him on-the-job training.
    For the first time ever, I’m saying dump Oden. You can only wait so long. If he can make it elsewhere, good for him.

  2. cluelessdufus - Jan 12, 2012 at 10:24 PM

    this is a hard choice but in the ending batum will be there wallace said will not sign a extension so batum how averaged 15.5 points 6.4 rebrounds 3.1 assists is an inpressive future piece wallace will be traded before the dead line but if the blazers still think they need a SF the wolves will trade Beasley and thats a choice

  3. 00maltliquor - Jan 13, 2012 at 2:16 AM

    I don’t understand why they just can’t keep both and pay the luxuary tax if need be. Their owner is rich as *u*k. Small price to pay to keep contending.

    Anyways, shouldn’t be that tough of a decision. Batum has been in the league long enough to know exactly what you’re gonna get from him with slight improvement over a few years. He’s good, but no Wallace. However it would be ideal to sign Crash for only 2 more years. 3 max with a frontloaded contract. Won’t happen though ’cause NBA players are greedy as sh!t and don’t care about leaving money on the table for the better of the team to build a winner. They wanna clean house every time. See Tyson Chandler in NY.

    Look for Wallace to bludgeon them with a 4 year 53-56 million dollar deal. (Remember that you heard it here first!)

  4. jimothyvonstojavic - Jan 13, 2012 at 2:41 AM

    I love Batum but Wallace will be more productive. I just wish we could keep both.

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