What a long, strange trip it’s been this free agency than Nicolas Batum. And it’s not even close to over yet.
It’s an entertaining tale but we all know how the movie ends — he will be back in Portland as a key part of the rebuilding there.
Let me explain.
It all started last season, when Batum and his agent were trying to get the Trail Blazers to give up a large extension to Batum’s rookie deal, the team reportedly offered $26 million over four years, but that didn’t get it done. There was some bad blood built up and some sniping in the media. The bottom line out of all of it was Batum became a restricted free agent this summer (meaning Portland can match any offer Batum gets).
In the past few days, Batum and his agent met with Minnesota, and on Tuesday came this story from CSNNW.com.
Nic Batum does not want to return to the Portland Trail Blazers “under any circumstances for a variety of reasons,” according to an NBA source close to the situation.
To which Batum himself answered on twitter:
trust me I didn’t…
Okay… what is going on here? Jason Quick of the Oregonian summed it up well on twitter.
Sounds like agent for @nicolas88batum is at it again, trying to create contentious environment to provide some illusion of leverage. #rookie
Here’s where things actually stand (via Blazers Edge) — despite the talks Batum has no promise of an offer from Minnesota. At least not yet. Minnesota and Batum had discussions about a four-year, $45 million offer, but nothing is official. New Orleans and Cleveland also have expressed interest.
And pretty much whatever offer Batum gets, Portland will match. Which is why Batum himself is trying to distance himself from the comments of his agent/source, because he has to go back and play in the city.
Batum is too valuable — he is a great wing defender, gave the Blazers 30 minutes and 13 points a game last season and can drain the three. He is a quality swingman and a lot of GMs around the league covet him. They just know Portland is going to match pretty much any offer, so most GMs are focused on targets they can acquire.
It’s a long strange trip. That still ends in Portland next fall.