Blazers GM reiterates he won't let Nic Batum go, but talks continue
Get the 1500 ESPN SportsWire delivered to your inbox daily, and keep up with all the news in Twin Cities Sports
Two days after Neil Olshey no longer would say he was certain to match a potential offer sheet from the Minnesota Timberwolves to swingman Nicolas Batum, the Portland Trail Blazers general manager sounded like a man who had no intention of letting the restricted free agent go.
Jason Quick of the Portland-based Oregonian tweeted Wednesday that Olshey said he will match if the Wolves present Batum with an offer sheet. Olshey also said he does not see anything the Wolves can offer in a sign-and-trade that is appealing to Portland.
However, later in the day, ESPN reported the Blazers and Wolves were discussing a trade that would send Batum to Minnesota in exchange for two future first-round draft picks and a veteran small forward acquired from a third team.
The Wolves planned to sign Batum to an offer sheet if the deal wasn't completed by Wednesday night, a source told ESPN. The source did not identify the third team in the deal, but one report earlier in the day had Chicago "likely" sending Kyle Korver to the Wolves as part of a deal.
Batum made it clear in an interview with NBA.com he wants to come to Minnesota, and the Wolves reportedly are prepared to offer him a four-year, $45 million deal that could top $50 million with incentives.
Free agency started at 11:01 p.m. Tuesday and the Blazers have three days to either match any offer sheet the Wolves give the 23-year-old Batum or work a sign-and-trade.
Olshey's stance Wednesday was far more consistent with his message from last week.
At that point, Olshey told The Oregonian that he appreciated getting to talk to Batum and his agent "face-to-face" in order, "to get our message across."
The message was that the Blazers intended to match any offer Batum received, and Olshey added, "We will not facilitate any sign-and-trade scenarios."
In four seasons with Portland, Batum has averaged 10.2 points and 3.9 rebounds.