Blazers GM now making no promises when it comes to Nicolas Batum
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Portland Trail Blazers general manager Neil Olshey is no longer saying he is certain to match the Minnesota Timberwolves' offer sheet to swingman Nicolas Batum.
Given the opportunity to do just that Monday, Olshey told reporters in Portland: "We've all heard things. I had a conversation with his agent, I had a conversation with David Kahn from the Minnesota Timberwolves. That will remain private. Like I said, what you will see at the end of this is that I believe what we did is in the best interest of the organization today and in the future."
Free agency begins at 11:01 p.m. central on Tuesday.
The 23-year-old Batum, a restricted free agent, reportedly has agreed to a four-year, $45 million deal with the Wolves that can top $50 million with incentives. The Blazers will have three days to either match after free agency kicks off or the Wolves could try to work a sign-and-trade with Portland.
Batum's agent told the Associated Press last week that his client is hoping Portland doesn't match the Wolves' offer, or works out a sign and trade. Batum and agent Bouna Ndiaye discussed the issue with Portland executives and made it clear Batum wants to play in Minnesota.
Last week, Olshey told The Oregonian in Portland 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 and it's clear Wolves coach Rick Adelman thinks Batum would be a good fit for his offense.
"We're not going to comment on free agents, we're in the moratorium," Olshey said Monday. "He's going through his process. As was reported, we had lunch with his agent, we had a good discussion with him. There are some strategic things there that will have to be handled. But, like I said, right now we're all just kind of working off word of mouth until tomorrow night."