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.
Brook Lopez will start at center for the Lakers. Behind him, they have a couple young players they want to groom, Ivica Zubac and Thomas Bryant.
Those youngsters just got bumped a notch down the ladder — Andrew Bogut is about to become a Laker. Shams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports broke the news, and other reports have confirmed it.
Lakers’ coach Luke Walton coached Bogut at Golden State, and that connection helped get him to Los Angeles when Boston, Minnesota, and Cleveland were also trying to land his services. Bogut gets the system Walton wants to run and wants to be part of this new Lakers team.
The question with Bogut is always health. He can be a solid defensive big in the paint and is a good passer, but last season he broke his tibia in his first game with the Cavaliers, the latest in a long line of health concerns. Bogut’s doctors have cleared him to play.
The Lakers also add a solid veteran presence to help mentor those young bigs (although if Bogut is taking minutes from them it seems counterproductive). Bogut can show Zubac and Bryant the art of setting the best illegal screens in the league (he’s a master, Lonzo Ball will love him). We’ll see how many minutes Bogut gets when it matters.
This one-year deal gives the Lakers another potential trade chip and does not mess with their cap space next summer, when they want to clear out room and go after two max free agents (which will mean dumping the contract of Luol Deng, likely with Julius Randle or someone as a sweetener, to get the space). For Bogut, stay healthy and play well and he might come back on a minimum contract to a stacked Lakers team next season.
The Memphis Grizzlies have 15 guaranteed contracts on the roster already — and that’s not counting a deal for JaMychal Green and the non-guaranteed deal for Mario Chalmers.
Which makes this signing interesting, via Marc Spears of ESPN.
The Grizzlies and second-round pick Ivan Rabb are close to agreeing terms on a three-year contract, a source told The Undefeated.
Two years of that are rumored to be guaranteed. If so, that leads to questions about who gets cut from the roster and paid anyway? Or, are the Grizzlies setting themselves up for a trade during camp? Also, Mario Chalmers is going to have to show enough skill for another team to grab him.
Rabb is a 6’10” guy with potential but a lot of development to do. He may be more of a four than a small ball five, but he needs time on the court to find out and show off his game. He didn’t get a lot of that time to show what he can do in Summer League due to a sprained ankle. He should get run in Grizzlies camp, where there are going to be some interesting roster battles.
Old-school owner Glen Taylor wanted to talk with Andrew Wiggins face-to-face before maxing out the Timberwolves young wing, likely to say something along the lines of “you’re going to earn this, right?”
However, the deal was always on the table. Wiggins was always going to sign it.
That should happen in the next week, reports Darren Wolfson.
Wiggins averaged 23.6 points per game last season, shot 35.7 percent from three, plus played solid defense, but he’s got a big new challenge this season — mesh with Jimmy Butler. Wiggins and Butler both play on the wing and have similar games — except Butler is pretty much better at everything. Thibodeau doesn’t want to have Wiggins just sitting on the weak side as a floor spacer most of the time, he’s got to get him involved. Problem is Karl-Anthony Towns is a flat-out stud who has to get a lot of touches, and while we’re at it Jeff Teague is better with the ball in his hands as well.
Can Wiggins improve his efficiency with fewer touches? Can he make the needed sacrifices to win and still find a way to assert himself (a question for a lot of the Timberwolves this season)? Wiggins has gotten his big payday, this season we start to see if he can take the next steps to being truly an elite player.
Chelsea is off to an expected strong start to the English Premier League season, racking up 10 points (3-1-1) in five contests, with a solid +3 goal differential. (That has them just one spot ahead of my beloved Newcastle, which is an unexpected fourth with nine points through five… I’m good with calling it a season right now and taking these standings).
If Chelsea is looking for a striker — and they might want one after a 0-0 draw with Arsenal over the weekend — Stephen Curry seems to have a decent right foot. He swung by Stamford Bridge and took a penalty kick (that the goalie probably could have stopped but…)
If Curry could strike from distance on the pitch like he does on the court, then we might have something.