Nicolas Batum, Greg Stiemsma

Nicolas Batum is angry at Portland, except he’s really not

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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.

Markieff Morris flips off Suns fan (video)

Phoenix Suns' Markieff Morris reacts to a call during the second half of the team's NBA basketball game against the Golden State Warriors, Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2016, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York)
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Markieff Morris‘ frustrations last night didn’t end with his scuffle with teammate Archie Goodwin. They didn’t end with the Suns’ loss to the Warriors, either.

As Morris was leaving the court, a fan heckled him: “Markieff, you f—ing suck. I can’t wait until you’re traded.” Though Morris probably agrees with the second sentence, he flipped off the fan:

Though it’s difficult to confirm that video was from last night, it jibes with a previous report of the incident.

John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7

Morris will likely at least be fined. Considering his previous behavioral problems this season – he threw a towel at Jeff Hornacek – I wouldn’t completely rule out a suspension. But a fine seems most likely.

Dwight Howard commits ridiculously sloppy inbound violation (video)

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An embarrassing lack of focus by the Rockets? I can hardly believe it.

Late in a game against a team Houston is battling for playoff position, Dwight Howard was just careless, stepping on the baseline as he inbounded the ball. It’s a needless goof, and he’ll get plenty of deserved criticism for it.

But don’t overlook Patrick Beverley‘s frustration foul on Damian Lillard before the ensuing inbound. That was nearly as foolish and even more costly.

The sequence sparked a 7-0 run for the Trail Blazers, who seized control of the game en route to a 116-103 win.

DeAndre Jordan dunks on Marcus Smart before Smart knows what’s happening (video)

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Marcus Smart went to tag DeAndre Jordan on the pick-and-roll, and Jordan took off from so far from the basket, he was dunking on Smart before the Celtics guard could do a thing.