It’s decision time in Portland, Batum signs Minnesota offer

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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.