Batum Eager To Play For Wolves



He was about 3,800 miles away, but Nicolas Batum’s voice was loud and clear. He wants to play with the Minnesota Timberwolves next season.

Batum, the Blazers’ restricted free agent, made his preference clear Tuesday afternoon in a telephone interview from Madrid, where he was with the French National team as it prepared for a friendly match later Tuesday against Spain, one of the top challengers to the defending U.S. men’s Olympic gold medal team at the upcoming Summer Games in London. While Portland has said it will match any offer sheet for Batum, he hopes they will let him go to play for the Wolves, who have a commitment for a four-year deal worth $45 million on the table when the July Moratorium ends Wednesday.

“I’m a restricted free agent,” Batum said. “I know the situation. Anywhere I sign, the Blazers are going to match. But my first choice was, and is, Minnesota. 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 basketball wise, I want to be there. Last year, they impressed everybody, and that’s what I respect. To have a great young point guard like (Ricky) Rubio, and a great coach like (Rick) Adelman, I really liked that project. And I think they think I’m the missing piece at small forward. That’s what they told me.”

Batum met last week with Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor, team president David Kahn and Adelman, and was impressed by the direction in which the franchise is going. But the 23-year-old Batum has been a priority to retain by the Blazers through several different basketball administrations, intrigued by his ability to score either as a driver or shooter. Portland acquired Batum in a Draft night deal in 2008 from the Rockets. Last season he averaged 13.9 points and 4.6 rebounds for the Blazers, and his Player Efficiency Rating of 17.32 ranked eighth among small forwards in the league, behind only LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony, Paul Pierce, Danny Granger, Rudy Gay and Andre Iguodala.

A source said that Batum did not want to sign an offer sheet because he was worried the Blazers would match. And, indeed, according to the Oregonian newspaper, that’s exactly what the team’s new general manager, Neil Olshey, told Batum and his representatives in a meeting last week. However, the Timberwolves have enough space to sign him outright to a sheet. They can clear $10.8 million of additional room buying out center Brad Miller (who has already announced his retirement) and guard Martell Webster, and also could create additional room by using the amnesty clause on center Darko Milicic, who is under contract next season at $5.22 million and has two years and $10.8 million left on his contract.

Batum grew frustrated by the slower pace that former Blazers coach Nate McMillan favored, and thinks he has a chance to play at a more up-tempo style in Minnesota.

“When I talked with Adelman last week, I felt like he wants me, will play me the way I ask to play,” Batum said. “Last year was tough for all of us and I think I need a new start. I think I need something else. Again, it’s nothing against the city or the fans (in Portland).”

Batum said that he thinks Portland and Minnesota will ultimately work something out.

“I know that they’re working on a sign and trade, and I’m very hopeful that both of them understand my situation, do the best both for me and for them,” he said.

Olshey, Batum said, told him last week that he could be a big part of Portland’s team going forward.

“But like I said, I feel like I have to move on,” Batum said. “I need a new situation and a new start…I feel like it’s the best situation for me in Minnesota. I think that’s a great group of guys. This team can be interesting next year. It could be fun.”

The Wolves’ need to add Batum is just as strong as his desire to be there. The team’s All-Star forward, Kevin Love, expressed his frustration with the team’s slow pace at adding quality players Monday in an interview with Yahoo! Sports.

The Timberwolves agreed to terms last week with former Blazers standout Brandon Roy, who ended his retirement due to knee problems after getting treatments similar to the platelet rich therapy program many professional athletes with knee issues are using. Roy will get $10.4 million over two years. The Wolves also traded for Rockets forward Chase Budinger before the Draft, giving Houston the 18th pick in the first round.

“My patience is not high,” Love told Yahoo! in Las Vegas, where the U.S. Olympic team is holding training camp. “Would yours be, especially when I’m a big proponent of greatness surrounding itself with greatness? All these (Team USA) guys seem to have great players around them…It’s tough seeing all these guys that are young and older who have all played in the playoffs. When they start talking about that, I have nothing to talk about. If I don’t make the playoffs next year, I don’t know what will happen.”

Love signed a four-year extension with Minnesota that kicks in next season and pays him $62 million. He wanted a five-year deal worth $80 million, the maximum, but the Wolves were not willing to go that far. But Love, who also praised Adelman and the Wolves’ coaching staff, said he wanted management to “make some stuff happen” and add other players.

“It’s no secret I was willing to commit to Minnesota for five years,” Love told Yahoo!. I’m very happy with my contract. I’d love to be in Minnesota. But like anybody else, I want to win.”

For his part, Batum said he has hopes that the French team can get into medal contention. France got a big boost last week when Spurs star guard Tony Parker was cleared to play after suffering a serious eye injury during a brawl at a New York nightclub last month. Parker has since filed a $20 million lawsuit against the club, where he was with friends when a fight broke out between the entourages of the R&B star Chris Brown and the rapper Drake. Batum, Spurs forward Boris Diaw and the Heat’s Ronny Turiaf will play for France, which starts Olympic play July 29.

“We’re missing (Joakim) Noah right now, but we’re a good team,” Batum said. “We know the USA will be a big favorite in this competition, but us, Argentina and Spain, you never know.”

48 Comments

  1. Frank503 says:

    I like Batum a lot. He will be on one of the all NBA defensive teams within the next 2 seasons. He is young and talented and really hasn’t slowed down on his progress. I really think his agent is behind this all. His agent doesn’t play ball so the only way his agent gets paid more is if the players he represents make more money. I am not sure of what the agent cut is but at 5% for representing a player who makes $2,000,000 his cut is $100,000. If Batum’s contract is 4 years @ $45,000,000 that is an average of $11,250,000 a year. Which means his agent’s 5% cut turns into $562,000 a year. Not a bad paying job for not having to do anything.

  2. Anthony says:

    Everybody thinks Minnesota is over paying for Batum. yet he is only 23 and a 4 year deal could be a steal for a potential all star at 12 million a year. Even if Portland signs Batum this year, there’s no way he doesn’t come to the wolves next year

  3. Batum is a player that would fit in a team with a very good point guard coz he seldom create his own shots. Wolves need to have Rubio healthy in time for start of 2012-2013 season. Wolves is still relatively weak– they will find it hard to enter the playoffs– find a legitimate center, a good PG and another PF

  4. D Lion says:

    These are each teams’ starting lineups WITHOUT Batum:

    Portland

    PG: Damion Lillard
    SG: Wesley Matthews
    SF: Luke Babbitt/Elliot Williams?
    PF: LaMarcus Aldridge
    C: Meyers Leonard

    Minnesota

    PG: Ricky Rubio
    SG: Brandon Roy (if healthy)
    SF: Derrick Williams?
    PF: Kevin Love
    C: Nikola Pekovic

    Both teams have pretty good starting lineups, but a gaping deficiency at SF. Since the coaching in Portland is new, the choice for Batum is between 2 new systems, either of which he will be the 2nd scoring option behind one of the league’s top PFs. But while Minnesota offers the thrill of going somewhere new, Portland has something else to offer: a familiar team. Batum didn’t like the system last year, but he likes the team and he likes its players. If Batum were to have an off year in Portland, the organization as a whole would probably be gracious about it, because Portland loves Batum. If he has a lousy year in Minnesota his first year there, he will probably get shipped somewhere else. Although Batum is excited about trying a new team in the Timberwolves, he has already established himself in Portland, and that is where he should stay.

  5. rubionxtnash says:

    Minnesota timberwolves
    pg – ricky rubio
    sg – brandon roy
    sf – batum
    pf – Kevin Love
    c – nikola pekovic

    back up -williams, barea, ridnour,johnso and budinger

    western top contender . . .

  6. alione says:

    BATUM IS THE MISSING PIECE FOR MN! I HOPE PORTLAND WILL ACCEPT A TRADE.GIVE THEM RIDNOUR SINCE WE JUST SIGNED THAT RUSSIAN GUARD.AND WEBSTER,AND PICKS AND CASH, OR DERRICK WILLIAMS AND PICKS.MN COULD HAVE BEEN AS HIGH AS A 5 SEED LAST YEAR BEFORE ALL THE INJURIES HAPPENNED.EVERYONE DOUBTS THIS TEAM EVEN THE FANS IN MN,JUST WAIT AND SEE PEOPLE LOVE AND RUBIO WILL TAKE THIS TEAM SOMEWHERE SPECIAL IF WE CAN GET A FEW MORE PIECES,BATUM AND ROY IS A GREAT START!

  7. Jeff says:

    Batum has been coddled and appreciated the entire time he’s been here (Portland). We gave him his shot in the NBA. But, i understand why he would want a change of scenery. The Blazers should receive a lopsided deal if we sign-and-trade. We’re gonna need a 3rd team to get involved, because we already have LMA and now Joel Freeland, so there’s no need for another Power Forward in Derrick Williams.

  8. jooooooohn says:

    Stop complaining, Batum. You signed a contract. Live up to your obligations. Sick and tired of I want this, I want that.

  9. willie says:

    batum for williams + draft picks or cash is a fair trade…

  10. Marcus Vinicius says:

    Maybe Batum should mention the brazilian squad.

  11. flip says:

    @Dave seriously? kevin love is the best PF in the game right now if you cant see that then you know nothing about basketball and know nothing about judging a player’s worth

  12. cmarc says:

    im sick of hearing him complain and bitch about how the blazers aren’t going to move forward. they have lamarcus aldridge who can carry a team better than love and some great draft picks. let him leave so we can clear his overpaid contract and get a sub star like him who actually deserves and is grateful for their opportunity to play in the rosegarden

  13. DJ 612 says:

    Its pretty pathetic how people dont realize the upside in batum .

    LMAO !!!

    ^^^

    Batum has been very good . boder line allstar . wolves need a SF as williams didnt really stand out .
    Batum is also 23 .. Getting him in on a long term contract has the potential to keep love and rubio around.
    not to mention brandon roy as well… Also after this season which could and most likely end in making the playoffs
    and losing in the first round , wolves will be able to bring in other talent.

    Sad to see how blantely blind basketball fans are if somebodys name isnt lebron , kobe , wade .

  14. telecustom says:

    awww man PLEASE make that trade happen! batum fills so many needs for the wolves it’s almost ridiculous.. the wolves could be such an amazing team next season: rubio, barea/ridnour/roy, batum, love, pekovic. sweet. i really like derrick williams too, i hope he learns to play small forward or sth (really, kahn? drafting a power forward when your best player is also a PF?! only in minnesota…).
    the bench also looks kinda solid, so a 6-8 seed should really be possible in minny.
    and doesn’t portland need playmaking? don’t you guys wanna have one of our back ups? plus draft picks? pretty please?

  15. Twenty Seven says:

    Aaaaand.
    IMO, Batum > Beasley / Williams. And if anybody thinks Derrick can play 3, ok, I agree, but at some sort of point, he still need to mature his game. Unlike Batum, Derrick is still having that inconsistency issue. I know he had only few minutes (maybe more, when Love got injured) and his performance rose up quickly, but still he is not pure 3-spot guy.

    Soo, Batum is obviously the best choice for T’wolves, and T’wolves is obviously the best choice for Batum.

  16. Fefe (Nets) says:

    LOL @ ignorant people!!!! Haha!!!! He was not good: sorry but everytime he had minutes to play, he delivered. But Portland did not use him to his full potential so he grew frustrated. And it’s very different than Howard: He did not ask a trade nor nothing, and he just said that he feels he’s the missing piece for the Wolves while in Portland they proved the past couple of years that he is not “as important” for them. He is not whining nor nothing: he just got a better offer from another franchise where he can fully exploit his abilities. It’s like saying: “two companies like me, but one is a company where I already worked and grew frustrated, and the other one is a company really liking me and telling me I am the missing piece needed to reach success”. Everybody would like to work for the latter one.

    And he’s not being a crybaby because he did not push to firing coaches gm or something or menacing of something, he just expressed his point of view to the Blazers management team respectfully. He is even also saying that he hopes that Portland understands his situation and that he hopes a deal can be reached that is MUTUALLY beneficial to both parties.

    Anyway, to people doubting him: you’ll be mad when he’ll become an All-Star in a couple of years.

  17. dattebayo says:

    Since when do Portland fans behave like Laker fans? Batum is a great player, he has the versatility to play SG and SF and should have started instead of Felton/Crawford/Matthews. He probably only started because of injuries and the Wallace trade and came off the bench in 25 games. He had better shooting percentages than all the Portland guards and is way better at driving and finishing too. Watch some international games with him playing for France and you can see what this guy can pull off if the coaches just use him for more than just standing behind the 3point line.

    He is no cancer for wanting to play for Rick Adelman and he sure is worth the money. There have been far worse contracts in the league for years and Portland agrees since they want to match the offer.

    • Fly Guy says:

      I agree….his previous coaches didnt use him right. Adelman will use him right. But this is a business. I dont let him or any other potential starter go FOR NOTHING if I can help it.

  18. Grope says:

    Man I love seeing Batum play but if he wants to go, we should try to at least get something good out of the deal. But what does Minny have that we could possibly use…hmmm….hummm.

  19. no bull says:

    He is now a cancer. It does not matter how he plays he is and would continue to be a problem if he stays. He also has no business demanding where he wants to go. He is not a super star or a star player, Portland needs to drop him onto a lower team so they can acquire future lottery picks. Batum needs to stop demanding and start playing consistent not every 5 games or so. Portland needs to do whats best for them not Batum.

  20. Dave says:

    Trade him for derrick williams, eh or maybe for a future 1st round pick. I don’t see the wolves doing good this year unless Rubio is healthy. I see Rubio as the future of the wolves, Kevin Love is just a stat filler I don’t think Love is that good, he doesn’t play any defense. I would take kevin garnett, tim duncan, Chris Webber, Chris Bosh, Blake Griffin, Pau Gasol, lamarcus aldrdige, and even Rasheed Wallace in their primes over love. But hey who knows maybe Kevin Love will prove me wrong and lead his team deep into the playoffs.

    • dattebayo says:

      Last season, Rubio, Love, Beasley, Ridnour, Barea, Webster, Pekovic and Milicic combined for 166 games missed due to injury. So they almost always played without 3 key players that played heavy minutes in the rotation. Without Rubio the offense got stagnant too often and they were more vulnerable to penetration on the defensive end. Love missed 10 games games, Rubio 25, Barea more than 20 and Pekovic 19. If those guys had been healthy for the entire 66 games, they would have made the playoffs easily.

      Duncan is the best PF in the history of the game, even before Barkley and Malone. Did you seriously just put him in the same category with Gasol, Griffin and Rasheed Wallace when comparing those players in their prime? Really?? If you’d take Gasol, Duncan and Griffin over Love in the last 2 seasons you know nothing about basketball. Saying Love ain’t that good is just flatout wrong and claiming Griffin with no jumpshot and poorer defense than Love is better than him just makes you look retarded.

      • Fly Guy says:

        Be careful now…..before you go putting him ahead of Barkley and Malone. They didnt play with his supporting cast. You might wanna watch some film of the dream team and see what both of those players did playing next to David Robinson. Tim Duncan is a Hall of Famer. No question. Just be careful before you get too excited. Especially Barkley. Just take a look at his supporting cast over his career.

    • NBEATZ says:

      This is how the list should go.
      Karl Malone
      Tim Duncan
      Elvin Hayes
      Kevin Garnett
      KEVIN LOVE
      Charels Barkley
      Dirk Nowitzki
      Bob McAdoo
      Chris Bosh
      Blake Griffen

      NEXT:
      Chris Webber
      Pau Gasol
      Lamarcus Aldrdge
      Kevin McHale
      Dennis Rodman
      Shawn Kemp

      At this time in Love’scareer he is putting up 25 and 14 good for 5th on my list,purley for his numbers in the game, not his acomplishments

  21. overrated says:

    give him what he wants… sign and trade him to MIN.possible options Derrick Williams for Batum+picks or try a three team trade w/ LAL since MIN also wants PAU gasol.

  22. FukBatum says:

    What does he know about loyalty, let him go. It appears his dad is not the only one with a bad heart.

  23. Unbiased says:

    You guys must all be Portland fans.. Batum is an all around offensive and defensive player. He’s in the corner shooting threes because that’s how the plays are drawn up. Batum can slash with the best of them and finish at the basket, that’s what he likes to do. Portland’s staff doesn’t know how to properly utilize his talents and obviously their fans don’t appreciate him. Let him go to where he will be properly played and admired.

    • Juwon says:

      Thank you!!! I agree, Batum can play that game, and is definitely under-utilized in Rip city

      • lol? says:

        where he will be appreciated? wolfs fans posted on batums/his girlfriends twitter racial slurrs. go look it up. clearly hes “wanted” in the city.
        also look at the stats batum is an average defensive player. and hes not going to get to do what he wants to on the wolfs. rubio will have the ball in his hands most of the time creating. other time it will be love/roy. please do some research and think a lil before you decide to make statements.

  24. let him leave, he has never been very good anyway. The last thing we need when we play the lakers is a neutral , soft , frenchman…..hahahaha.speaking of lakers, batume thinks the land of lakes is the home of the lakers maybe? why would anyone want to play for minnesota?

    • Moore22 says:

      Why would anyone wanna play for Portland either?

    • Average Joe says:

      Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio, for starters. Rick Adelman, one of the best basketball minds in the NBA, for another. Remember he led the Yao-less and McGrady-less Rockets into the playoffs a few years back and gave the Lakers all they can handle. He also coached a Rockets team without any superstars into winning records year after year (although they didn’t make the playoffs). Now, tell me what does Portland have except my man LaMarcus Aldridge?

  25. Danny says:

    If number one choice isnt blazer…must let him walk or it will be like HOWARD.

  26. I thought he chose to go back to Portland because they matched the offer. Maybe he will turn into the guy that the Blazers wanted him to be. New coaches sometime makes all the difference in the world. Good luck to him.

    • JustAFan says:

      Portland matching the offer has nothing to do with what he wants. If Portland matches the offer it’s what THEY want. The article clearly states he does NOT want Portland to match the offer. It’s like Dwight Howard WANTING to go to the Nets. Teams don’t have to listen to or abide by what players want.

      In this case though it would be nothing short of idiocy for Portland to resign him. They aren’t getting anything close to his full potential and don’t seem inclined to even attempt to do so. It would be a waste of money to resign him and continue to not use him. Signing him now would be the exact opposite of doing what he wants. It would be done seemingly at this point merely to spite him. Why else spend that kind of money on someone you obviously don’t know how to use?

      It’s like the poster Danny below says, if he isn’t committed to the team it’s best to let him go. Apparently they’re the only team in the league that hasn’t seen the Dwightmare unfolding in Orlando. Not that Batum commands near the attention or is anywhere near that level of player. Still, why waste the money if he’s telling you not to?

  27. New Yorker says:

    A very demanding unknown player in the NBA. Not worth the price.

    Batum is not needed in Minnesota. Derrick Williams will play the Small Forward Position next year.

    • manolive says:

      Williams is a power forward. If he stays in Minnesota, his minutes will be limited playing behind Love. But to get Batum, they just may part ways with Williams. Adelman wants vets.

  28. Shane says:

    If you really want to move on that bad Nic & not have Portland match, sign the 1-year tender, play out the year then go to Minnesota the next year as an unrestricted FA.

    Tired of he & his agent’s bitching & complaining…

    • manolive says:

      Portland would not let that happen. SIgn and trade, baby. Go Wolves!!!

      • BBQMAN says:

        The Blazers do not want to trade Batum to a Conference rival. That is all they need. To get a beat down from the Wolves with Roy and Batum.

  29. ERT says:

    “The Blazers agreed to terms last week with former Blazers standout Brandon Roy”

    Make that quick change

    • dattebayo says:

      The Trailblazers amnestied Brandon Roy. That means his contract was written off the books and they lost their rights on signing him again to a contract.So they cannot resign him 1 season later and he will have to sign with another team. That’s why he agreed to a 2 year deal with the Timberwolves…

  30. Shashank says:

    Let him go! 12 Million per year isn’t worth the stagnant corner 3-point shooter he is. Unless he is going to develop his post up game and become more than just a shooter, he will be worth. If all else fails, I see a sign/trade for Batum.

    • two says:

      I agree a little, but what else does portland have?

    • Soneck says:

      hes way more than a corner shooter e.g. a terrific defender and athlete

    • DaFrenchGuy says:

      Sorry, but he is not a simple corner 2 point shooter. If you read all articles properly he is fed up with the slow pace and the fact that he cannot play his game which involves a lot of penetration. If you ever saw him play outside of the nab (international competitions) you would have seen that.