Restricted free-agent forward Nicolas Batum will reportedly be keeping his talents in Portland. The Minnesota Timberwolves, who have been trying to pry the French forward from the Trail Blazers, had signed him to a massive four-year, $45.5 million offer sheet.
UPDATE: Wednesday, July 18 at 6:00 p.m. ET by Richard Langford
The Associated Press is reporting that the Blazers have officially matched the Timberwolves' offer, which was for four years and $45 million-plus.
Of course, none of this is surprising. The Blazers have given all indications that they did not want Batum to get away, and the news, which you can read below, had already leaked that this deal was all but done.
Well, it is done now.
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Apparently, it was not massive enough to deter the Blazers from matching. The Oregonian's Jason Quick relayed his information with the following tweet:
So it's all but official: Nicolas Batum is staying with Blazers, who will match Minnesota offer. Olshey to address media in Vegas at 2:15— Jason Quick (@jwquick) July 18, 2012
Batum, 23, has spent all four NBA seasons with Portland. He has been steadily improving each season, and last year he averaged 13.9 points and 4.6 rebounds in 30.4 minutes per game.
Batum is a unique player. At 6'8", he has the length to go down low, but he has the skills that make him effective on the perimeter. He also can shoot, as he hit 39.1 percent of his threes last season.
The move to match is not that surprising, given that ESPN's Ric Bucher previously reported the Timberwolves had been working hard on putting a sign-and-trade together for Batum prior to signing him to the offer sheet.
According to Bucher, they were willing to send out as many as three first-round picks for Batum.
It would have been absurd for the Blazers to turn down those trade offers only to watch Batum walk away for nothing. So credit the Blazers for not having lost their mind.
While this contract seems excessive at first blush for someone whose career high is 13.9 points per game, Batum is a uniquely talented player on the rise.
Also, in comparison to many of the other bloated contracts being handed out this offseason, this is not a bad deal for Portland.