Restricted free-agent Nicolas Batum has agreed to terms on an offer sheet with the Timberwolves and is hoping that the Portland Trail Blazers either do not match the offer or execute a sign-and-trade to get him to Minnesota, Batum’s agent told The Associated Press on Thursday night.
Batum and agent Bouna Ndiaye met with Blazers officials Thursday and informed them that the versatile swingman feels his best fit is in Minnesota. Ndiaye declined to give the terms of the agreement, but a person with knowledge of the deal said it was for four years and $45 million, with bonuses that could push it past $50 million. The person requested anonymity because the deal hasn’t been completed.
The Blazers have been adamant that they will match any offer for Batum and were not interested in trading the 23-year-old native Frenchman. Ndiaye said Batum has great respect for the Blazers and their fans, but believes playing for Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman and alongside point guard Ricky Rubio and forward Kevin Love was the best situation for him.
”It was a very cordial meeting. There were no hard feelings,” Ndiaye said. ”So Nicolas basically talked about his four years with the Blazers and he expressed that maybe it was time for him to look at a place where it could be more happy.”
The offer cannot be signed until the moratorium ends July 11. Batum has averaged 10.2 points and 3.9 rebounds over four seasons with Portland, part of the reason the Blazers see him as such a valuable piece moving forward.
”We appreciated the face-to-face meeting to get our message across,” Blazers general manager Neil Olshey told The Oregonian. ”And that message was that we intend to match any offer and we will not facilitate any sign-and-trade scenarios.”
Batum visited Minnesota this week and met with owner Glen Taylor, team president David Kahn and Adelman and was sold on the franchise’s direction and the Twin Cities. Ndiaye said Batum is hoping the Blazers will do for him what the Suns did for Steve Nash and grant his request to move on to a place where he can be happy and competitive.
”Nicolas said `I really respect the Blazers’ organization, the Blazers’ fans,”’ Ndiaye said. ”He even mentioned he really loved to be coached by (former assistant) Monty Williams, who was a mentor. But his choice, his heart went to Minneapolis.”