The Minnesota Timberwolves aren't going to be getting their paws on Nicolas Batum which means the organization must turn its attention to other available free agents.
Neil Olshey and the Portland Trail Blazers decided to match the Wolves' offer sheet for the French small forward, agreeing to pay him $45 million—or more if he lives up to the bonus requirements—over the course of the next four years, according to the Oregonian's Jason Quick:
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
Now that Batum is no longer an option, the Timberwolves have to turn their attention to Courtney Lee, an unrestricted free agent who last played with the Houston Rockets.
Quite frankly, the Wolves should have been pursuing Lee over Batum throughout the entire free agent process. Batum is a better player, but he doesn't fill a need for Minnesota.
David Kahn's team already features Derrick Williams and new acquisition Chase Budinger at small forward, but shooting guard is a different story.
Wesley Johnson has been disappointing during his two seasons out of Syracuse, and Brandon Roy isn't exactly a sure thing. The former Portland Trail Blazer could be a revelation for the Wolves at the 2, but he's a risky option after coming out of retirement and shouldn't be asked to play more than 20 minutes per game.
Adding a starting shooting guard should be the primary goal for the Wolves, and Lee is the last one remaining that is of starting caliber.
Will the Minnesota Timberwolves make the playoffs next season?
With solid defensive skills and a great outside shot, Lee would complement Ricky Rubio quite well in the backcourt on both sides of the ball. Rubio is a pesky and quick defender, while Lee relies on his athleticism to shut down the opponent.
Plus, Rubio loves to penetrate into the interior of the defense, while Lee is fairly adverse to venturing inside the three-point arc.
Lee's acquisition would allow the T'Wolves to shore up their one weak position, give Roy the necessary help and boost this team into immediate playoff contention.