Nicolas Batum will be in demand this summer — he is nearly an elite defender on the wing, averaged 13.9 points per game last season and plays within himself on offense, and he shot 39 percent from three. Name a team that couldn’t use a guy like that?
The Spurs and other teams are reportedly interested in the Frenchman and the Blazers can forget about a hometown discount, Batum’s agent told Chris Haynes at CSNNW.com.
According to the agent for Portland Trail Blazers forward, Nicolas Batum, they will not be holding off on deals to allow the Trail Blazers to sign a couple of free agents before the team tends to his client, who’s a restricted free agent.
“The first good offer we get, we’re going with that,” Bouna Ndiaye of Comsport Management told CSNNW.com. “We’re not waiting for anything.”
You can still sense the bad blood there with the agent over contract extension talks that fell apart. But that will melt away if the money is right for both sides.
Timing will be key here. The Blazers would like to chase a couple free agents this summer, sign them, then be able to sign Batum over and above that. The Blazers have Batum’s Bird rights so they can go over the cap to get him in a way they can’t for others.
But if Batum gets an offer early in the free agent process the Blazers will only have three days to match, and if they sign him there will be a lot less room for free agents.
It would be interesting to see what Batum will be offered this summer. My guess would be three or four years in the $8 million range, which the Blazers likely match. But if the contract is larger, front-loaded or offered early in the free agent process Portland has a decision on its hands.
Apparently, all it takes is a little public discussion of LeBron James‘ “broken” jump shot to get him back on balance and knocking down the three ball — he was 4-of-6 from deep Wednesday.
Then again J.R. Smith was 7-of-13, Kyrie Irving 4-of-5, and as a team the Cavaliers knocked down a record 25 threes — while shooting 55.6 percent — as they wiped the floor with the Hawks in Game 2.
In case you’re curious where the Cavs were hitting from, here’s the team’s shot chart.
The Houston Rockets aren’t in any rush to hire a new head coach, preferring to interview a wide range of candidates to find the right one. Jeff Van Gundy has been widely believed to be at the top of their list, now that Tom Thibodeau and Scott Brooks are off the market, but ESPN.com’s Marc Stein is reporting another name that has entered the mix: Mike D’Antoni, who last held a head coaching job from 2012 to 2014 with the Lakers and currently serves as the Sixers’ lead assistant.
The Pacers, meanwhile, haven’t made a final decision on Frank Vogel’s future with the team, but all signs seem to point to him getting let go in the next few days. And if that happens, Stein reports that Vogel will also be on Houston’s list of candidates.
Given the Rockets’ massive drop-off on the defensive end this season, Vogel would seem to be a better fit than D’Antoni. But it sounds like the Rockets aren’t close to finding a replacement for J.B. Bickerstaff, although it would make sense to have a new coach in place by next month’s draft.
On Monday, the Hawks played the Cavaliers close and even led in the fourth quarter, leading plenty of optimism that Game 2 would be equally competitive, that the Hawks had something to build on.
The Cavs dominated from the start on Wednesday, with a 123-98 final score that was far closer than the game actually was — the Cavs led 74-36 at the half and led by as much as 38 at one point in the second half.
The Cavs also hit 25 three-pointers, which is the all-time record for a single game — regular season or playoffs. J.R. Smith hit seven of them, along with four each from LeBron James and Kyrie Irving and three for Kevin Love.
18 of Cleveland’s threes came in the first half, also a playoff record, and this was all Atlanta could do:
That’s the kind of night it was for the Hawks, who now trail 2-0 in the series as it heads back to Atlanta.
LeBron James has always been an incredible passer. In the midst of the Cavs’ Game 2 beatdown of the Hawks, he zipped this one-handed beauty into the paint to Kyrie Irving, who kicked it out to Kevin Love for a corner three:
The three was just one of the 18 Cleveland hit in the first half, which set an NBA playoff record.