NBA Rumors: Nicolas Batum Signing Would Push Timberwolves into Playoffs
But, as of now, the Portland Trail Blazers stand in the way.
The Wolves are expected to formally submit an offer sheet on Sunday evening, leaving the Blazers with three days to match the deal in what has become an interesting back-and-forth between the two team's in regard to the promising young Batum.
From Ric Bucher of ESPN:
The Timberwolves, league sources say, are prepared to sign Batum to a four-year, $46.4 million offer sheet Sunday after repeatedly trying to trade for him. They have offered as many as three future first-round draft picks and even have dangled small forward Derrick Williams, the No. 2 pick in the 2011 draft.
The Blazers have resisted every overture even though multiple sources say Portland management believes $46.4 million is vastly more than Batum is worth.
And Batum is exactly the sort of player the Wolves have been looking to add for years (from the Associated Press via Sports Illustrated):
Batum averaged 13.9 points and 4.6 rebounds in his fourth season with the Blazers, and the Wolves see him as the versatile, defensive-minded perimeter player they have been searching for over the past few seasons.
"He very much is kind of a missing piece,'' [Wolves president Davd] Kahn said. "We're very hopeful that we can have him. But we understand what restricted free agency is.''
With superstar Kevin Love, young and exciting talents in Ricky Rubio and Derrick Williams already in Minnesota, the acquisition of Batum would push the Wolves into the playoffs next season.
While many fans probably expected the team to draft a shooting guard or swingman rather than trade the 18th pick to Houston for Chase Budinger and the draft rights to Lior Eliyahu, the premier options at the position—Bradley Beal, Dion Waiters, Jeremy Lamb and Terrence Ross—would have all been off the board anyway.
And none are as proven in the NBA as Batum.
As for whether or not Batum will end up with Minnesota remains to be seen. If the Blazers are adamant they will keep Batum despite the cost, the easy option is to simply match the deal.
But if the Wolves have made this too expensive for the Blazers' liking, the smart play would be to accept a sign-and-trade and at least recoup some losses in this situation. It certainly sounds like the Wolves would make a sign-and-trade worth the Blazers' troubles, at least according to Bucher's report.
Should the Blazers match the Wolves offer sheet?
If given his choice, it sounds as though Batum would prefer to play for the Wolves and would prefer playing for head coach Rick Adelman. The Blazers don't need to honor his wishes, but they do need to be privy to the fact that they might be re-signing a player that no longer desires to play for them.
And that is always a slippery slope.
One of the most intriguing players left on the market will either have a new home or will be returning to his old team in a few days. For the Wolves, he represents playoff aspirations for next season. For the Blazers, he is a young (but now very expensive) building block for the future.
He means a whole lot to two different cities. The ball is in your court, Portland.
Hit me up on Twitter—my tweets are money like the transfer window.
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