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.
Neil Olshey came in to his first press conference as Trail Blazers general manager and said all the things Blazers fans wanted and you’d expect — we’re trying to re-tool not rebuild, we are in this to win for the long term, etc.
But there was one interesting thing — it sounds like interim coach Kaleb Canales will get to keep his job full time. Here is what he said, via the fantastic BlazersEdge.com.
“He’s the in-house favorite… At the end of the day, I don’t see anyone bringing more to the table than Kaleb Canales but we’re going to undergo a process to figure that out.”
“I don’t think there’s any deadline for when we need to have someone in place [as head coach].”
It should be noted Canales and Olshey have the same agent.
Things can change when a new GM comes in, but he seems to have a direction here.
This was a fast 360.
First rumors circulated that Clippers general manager Neil Olshey had met with Trail Blazers owner Paul Allen about that franchise’s open general manager’s position. The Clippers responded by talking to Olshey and announcing last week they had reached a “deal in principle” with him to stay in Los Angeles.
But that deal was not solid.
Late Monday news came that the Clippers and Olshey were parting ways. Half an hour later came the report that he was going to be the new GM of the Portland Trail Blazers. (Kevin Arnovitz of ESPN seemed to be first with this.)
Olshey has not said why, but it is known he was one of the lowest-paid GMs in the league in Los Angeles (making a reported $250,000) and whatever he’s making now will be a whole lot more, (more than double at least). That said, you can be sure he will say it was not the money. Of course. It never is.
This is a great hire for Portland, a loss for the Clippers.
Olshey helped turn around the culture of the Clippers, he swung the Chris Paul trade and also brought in veterans for the team like Caron Butler, Mo Williams and Chauncey Billups. The Clippers were as lost as any NBA franchise and Olshey is part of the reason they are now considered up and coming contenders.
Soon he will take over in Portland where they have All-Star forward LaMarcus Aldridge, solid role players such as Nicolas Batum, two lottery picks this year and a lot of cap room to go after free agents. Interim GM Chad Buchanan did an excellent job and was rumored to be back in the running
The Clippers need to now find a GM to help this franchise continue its trajectory. Whichever GM comes in will have Vinny Del Negro as his coach and needs to convince free agent to be Chris Paul that he needs to stay after next season. Blake Griffin will get a max deal offer from whoever gets the job.
One thought — Jeff Bower is available and was the GM for the Hornets when Chris Paul was there. They already have a relationship. Bower is reportedly still in the mix for the Orlando job, but he might be swayed. But will the notoriously frugal owner Donald Sterling pay up for a top flight GM?