Wolves are making a last run at a sign-and-trade for Nicolas Batum before signing him to an offer sheet.
By JOAN NIESENFS North
MINNEAPOLIS – The Minnesota Timberwolves are still attempting to work out an agreement on a sign-and-trade deal to acquire small forward
Nicolas Batum from the Portland Trail Blazers, according to a league source.
The team hopes to resolve the situation by the end of the day, and if a sign-and-trade agreement can’t be reached, it is poised to present Batum — a restricted free agent — with an offer sheet. In order to create cap space for that offer sheet, the team would be forced to buy out the contracts of retiring center Brad Miller and swingman Martell Webster; the deadlines on those buyouts were extended in the hopes of including them in a sign-and-trade deal.
Batum, a 23-year-old who has played four seasons with Portland, has averaged 10.2 points and 3.9 rebounds per game over his career. In 2011-12, he had his best season, averaging 13.9 points and 4.6 rebounds per game. Portland can match any offer presented to him, but he has expressed a desire to play in Minnesota.
That wish to join the Timberwolves became clear on July 5, when Batum’s agent, Bouna Ndiaye, spoke out about his client’s wish to leave Portland and play in Minnesota. Since then, the Trail Blazers have been adamant that they will match any offer given the small forward.
Ndiaye told CSNNW.com that Batum feels that he’d fit better in Minnesota’s motion system than in Portland’s more rigid offense. On Tuesday, Batum also went on the record about his desire to leave Portland.
"My first choice was, and is, Minnesota," Batum told NBA.com. "That's where I want to play, and that's where I want to put my family. I've got nothing against the fans (in Portland) and nothing against the city. But this is a basketball decision, and basketballwise, I want to be there (Minnesota.)."
Since Batum’s comments, Trail Blazers’ general manager Neil Olshey has clarified his team’s position and the possibility of a sign-and-trade, which would be the best way for the Timberwolves to acquire the small forward. Olshey has said that he doesn’t believe that the Timberwolves have enough to give up in exchange for Batum, and he also took several swipes at Batum’s desire to play in Minnesota.
The terms of the proposed sign-and-trade were not immediately available.