The Minnesota Timberwolves believe that a player with the lanky resourcefulness of Nicolas Batum would look just great filling the wing while Ricky Rubio makes defenders go cross-eyed alongside him. They think he’d look fantastic running down a Kevin Love outlet for an easy two after getting his hand in a passing lane on the other end of the floor. They tried in every which way, before finally submitting their official offer sheet of 4 years and $46 million to the Portland Trail Blazers on Sunday, to land Batum in a sign-and-swap, but Portland steadfastly refused.
The Blazers, under new general manager Neil Olshey, have remained consistent that Batum is a large part of their current rebuilding effort — he was a survivor, after all, of the unexpected all-out fire sale that went down in Portland last season, after the team went into an unstoppable tailspin of sad basketball following a promising start — and that they would indeed match any offer sheet for the restricted free agent. Now they have three days, which began yesterday when the offer was officially submitted, to match the Timberwolves’ generous four-year offer.
Batum’s agent has said that the swingman was quite taken with Minnesota, its young core of free-wheeling, upstart ballers, led by the duo of Rubio and Love, and that he’s ready to make the move to the Midwest. But by not trying to work a sign-and-trade more seriously — or, yes, maybe they just didn’t like the possible returns that Minnesota had to offer, though anything will be more than what they’ll receive if they don’t match Batum’s offer now — the Blazers do appear ready to stare down that fat deal for Batum, a player who could certainly elevate a team with his stringy contributions though at the same time might be hitting a bigger-than-necessary payday, and decide if the trigger’s worth pulling.
Either team will end up with the player they want at a price that’s inflated, yet apparently necessary in proving their respective commitments to Batum. Minnesota will pay that much because that’s how much they want him; Portland can match to prove the same.
Griffin Gotta contributes to The Hoop Doctors and is a co-managing editor of Straight Outta Vancouver on SB Nation. The story arcs and infinite weirdness of the NBA are addictions he deals with every day. Email him at griffingotta at gmail dot com.