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It’s decision time in Portland, Batum signs Minnesota offer

Jul 15, 2012, 11:14 PM EDT

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Minnesota tried. They really tried to convince Portland to do a sign-and-trade for Nicolas Batum. They dragged the entire process out as long as they could.

Portland wouldn’t play along — so now it’s time to write a big check or move on.

It’s decision time. Finally Sunday night Portland has been given Minnesota’s four-year, $46.5 million offer sheet, the one Batum signed, reports Jason Quick at the Oregonian. Portland has until midnight Wednesday (eastern, or 9 p.m. in Portland) to match.

The Blazers are expected to match the offer sheet, based on the stance general manager Neil Olshey has emphatically stated since the opening of free agency on July 1. The offer sheet is more lucrative than the Blazers would like — surely a fact that Minnesota knew in making the offer — but Olshey said last week it still makes sense for him to match because there isn’t another starting small forward on the free agent market.

“I find it really hard right now to find that there is a small forward that you could replace the Nicolas Batum-level player with, with the cap room we would create by not matching,’’ Olshey said on July 12. “You know, there is a reason (Minnesota) is so valuing Nicolas Batum. It’s not easy to find a starting caliber (small forward) in the league.’’

Batum is a quality swingman that a lot of GMs around the league considered bidding on because he is athletic, scored 13.9 points per game and shot 39 percent from three, plays smart and is a one of the better wing defenders in the league.

But that contract is steep. Portland likely matches, but they will probably wait all three days to do it.

  1. Justin - Jul 15, 2012 at 11:53 PM

    This is going to put Portland in a tough spot when they match. Yeah Batum is good but only worth that much if you think he will put you as a player in the playoffs. They’ll have $30+ Million tied up in Aldridge, Batum and Matthews and if the 2 new kids they drafted (Lillard & Leonard) don’t pan out instantly they will be just good enough to stay mediocre until Aldridge’s next extension time comes up.

  2. dylude - Jul 16, 2012 at 12:06 AM

    Why do so many writers believe these GMs? They say stuff to discourage a team from making the offer.

    Portland offered him $5 mil/year a few months ago so $12 mil/year isn’t something to blink at when you have a hole at the 5. I personally think Olshey should match and move Batum next summer to get Lamarcus some front court help if Meyers Leonard doesn’t pan out.

    But that front office hates Minnesota and that anger may fuel them to match even though I know they don’t think Batum is worth the $$.

    I’d like to hear more about the animosity between Minnesota and Portland as the reason they will match and not GM-speak which we know is deceptive and full of agenda.

    • kw93 - Jul 16, 2012 at 12:59 AM

      Nicolas Batum gets $46 million offer

      Associated Press | July 15, 2012
      MINNEAPOLIS — The Minnesota Timberwolves have submitted a four-year, $46 million offer sheet for restricted free agent Nicolas Batum.

      The Portland Trail Blazers now have three days to match the offer or let him leave for Minnesota. The two teams have been having conversations about the 23-year-old swingman from France for over a week. The Wolves were hoping that Portland would agree to a sign-and-trade deal and tried to draw out negotiations as long as possible before filing the contract Sunday evening.

      Wolves president David Kahn used the amnesty clause on Darko Milicic, bought out Martell Webster and traded Brad Miller to New Orleans to create the cap room needed to sign Batum to the offer sheet.

      Blazers GM Neil Olshey has said repeatedly that they will match the Timberwolves’ offer, and trade talks between the teams apparently have devolved into a grudge match — at least for Portland — that involves far more than the talented forward.

      The Blazers acknowledged that they did receive the offer sheet Sunday night and said they would have no further comment until a decision has been made. If Olshey is to be believed, that decision was made a long time ago.

      The Timberwolves have offered as many as three future first-round draft picks and even have dangled small forward Derrick Williams, the No. 2 pick in the 2011 draft.

      But the Blazers have resisted every overture even though multiple sources say Portland management believes $46.4 million is vastly more than Batum is worth. Batum’s desire to leave Portland began last winter when the Blazers offered him an extension that averaged $5 million per year, a source said.

      The Timberwolves also tried to orchestrate a deal that would have sent small forward Kyle Korver to the Blazers, along with the future first-round picks, in a three-way deal involving the Chicago Bulls. That, too, was rejected by Portland.

      As soon as the free agent market opened July 1, the Timberwolves set their sights on Batum, a versatile, 6-foot-8 shooter with an established reputation as a fine perimeter defender. Team president David Kahn and coach Rick Adelman think Batum is a perfect fit for their more open offensive system and can grow alongside rising young stars Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio.

      The Wolves hosted Batum in the Twin Cities for a visit last week and he was impressed with what he heard. Agent Bouna Ndiaye said that his client was unhappy with how he was being used in Portland and would much prefer to play under Adelman and alongside Love and Rubio in Minnesota. They agreed to terms on an offer July 6, and spent the last 10 days trying to negotiate a sign-and-trade deal with the Blazers to make it happen.

      Even before the battle for Batum began, the teams were working to resolve a dispute, a league source said.

      The Blazers traded swingman Webster to the Timberwolves in a 2010 draft-night deal for Ryan Gomes and the rights to Minnesota’s No. 16 pick, Luke Babbitt. The following fall, Webster had back surgery because of a bulging disk. The Blazers were aware of the injury but did not disclose it before the trade, a league source said. The two teams since have been quietly negotiating compensatory terms but have not been able to reach an agreement.

      That former Blazers guard Brandon Roy has agreed to a two-year, $10 million deal with the Timberwolves also has Portland owner Paul Allen thinking Minnesota is trying to make life difficult for him, a source said.

      Roy retired before last season because of degenerative knees. The Blazers still owed him $49 million over three years at the time, but an insurance policy was expected to cover a significant chunk of that. If he returns to play, however, that policy no longer can be invoked and the Blazers are back on the hook for what they owe him, minus the $10 million Minnesota will pay him, sources say. The balance due from the Blazers could be as much as $17 million, one source said.

      Kahn is from Portland and once covered the team as a sportswriter for The Oregonian, but a team source insists there is no personal element coloring the Timberwolves’ interest in Batum or Roy or pursuing damages for Webster. The team even offered to relax its position on Webster in exchange for dealing them Batum.

      Information from ESPN The Magazine’s Ric Bucher and The Associated Press was used in this report.

  3. 76erer - Jul 16, 2012 at 12:11 AM

    Steep isn’t the word here, the guy is a decent 3 but at that price would look towards free agency next year.

  4. mrlitl - Jul 16, 2012 at 12:52 AM

    Contracts are getting ridiculous. This guy gets superstar money for 13.9 ppg? Why??

    • vikesorgtfo - Jul 16, 2012 at 1:18 AM

      Because Minnesota knows the only way they could have a shot at this guy is giving him a big contract, bigger than they would even like, to perhaps lure Portland to do a deal. He is getting overpaid, no doubt, but Minnesota needs a quality SF badly, and Kevin Love just recently said it’s basically this year or he’ll be a problem.

      Their starting 5 with Batum combined with a healthy Rubio, Roy, Love, and Pekovic is definitely competitive.

  5. diablito0402 - Jul 16, 2012 at 1:43 AM

    Jeremy lin gets all this crap about a 3 year 25 million contract??? Look a this clown getting all this money and he aint even good,, WOOOW. Wheres the hate here, ohh wait he is black, my bad, it ok for him to get his money right?

    • lookitsgreen - Jul 16, 2012 at 6:06 AM

      Damn you’re ignorant.

    • cbt22 - Jul 16, 2012 at 8:56 AM

      Do you even watch the NBA or just sports center?

  6. moseskkim - Jul 16, 2012 at 4:27 AM

    Batum is a rare breed of athletic small forwards and he showed glimpses of being a potential star. He’s got all the tools.. Speed, defense, outside shooting, long, can finish around the rim. The only problem is consistency. I don’t see him being a consistently high level player from game to game. Regardless, 11+ million for a quality young sf with lots of potential isn’t too much IMO.

  7. reptar24 - Jul 16, 2012 at 5:40 AM

    Come on to Minny!

    No whammys no whammys no whammys no whammys!

  8. diablito0402 - Jul 16, 2012 at 10:06 AM

    I saw lin turn a franchise around with no melo and no stoudemire, i watch basketball a lot, but, portland is never on so, 11 mill is almost superstar money, outside of portland noboby knows who this kid is, you get what im saying.

  9. diablito0402 - Jul 16, 2012 at 10:09 AM

    And from now on i dont want to hear crap about lin getting paid, not after this contract batum got, and i dont even like Lin that much..

  10. bparmalee - Jul 16, 2012 at 10:53 AM

    I love Batum but I just don’t see how the Blazers turned down a reported 3 first round picks for him. When the T-Wolves are desperate you have to fleece them. I mean 3 first round picks is about what the Magic are going to get for Howard and you turned that down for Batum?? Seems like this got personal between the two sides.

    • monkeyhateclean - Jul 16, 2012 at 11:23 AM

      bparmalee – Jul 16, 2012 at 10:53 AM

      I love Batum but I just don’t see how the Blazers turned down a reported 3 first round picks for him.

      ___________________

      The problem is that with Batum, Minny is probably a playoff team, so those #1 picks are going to be low.

      • bparmalee - Jul 16, 2012 at 11:42 AM

        It depends on how far out the picks are. I don’t trust David Kahn so I am not sure he can hold a team together long enough to make a few runs. Plus it’s the T-Wolves…. they always tend to under achieve in some way or another. It’s a gamble but the alternative is a big contract.

  11. jordanismyidol - Jul 16, 2012 at 12:29 PM

    Batum is a minnie kevin durant

    • brewdogg - Jul 16, 2012 at 6:31 PM

      Clever…. Minny’s Kevin Durant. I like the confidence that Portland won’t match the offer.
      Except they will…..

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