When the Portland Trail Blazers hired Neil Olshey as their new General Manager last month, he identified forwards LaMarcus Aldridge and Nicolas Batum, as the two players he planned to build the roster around. Olshey reiterated that sentiment on Thursday according to the “Oregonian” to the player and his agent in a meeting to discuss Batum’s future. The 23-year-old forward, who completed his fourth NBA campaign at the conclusion of the season, has agreed to sign an offer sheet for four years with the Minnesota Timberwolves said to be worth between $45-$50 million, depending on his meeting certain parameters.
The Portland executive told the native of France, that was all well and good, however the Blazers will match the offer and are not receptive to trading him. Olshey told the paper “We appreciated the face-to-face meeting to get our message across.And that message was that we intend to match any offer and we will not facilitate any sign-and-trade scenarios. We told Nic that it is in his best interests to sign with us.”
Batum’s agent Bouna Ndiaye, spoke with the Associated Press about his impressions of the Thursday afternoon meeting. He told reporters “It was a very cordial meeting. There were no hard feelings. 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. Nicolas said ‘I really respect the Blazers’ organization, the Blazers’ fans’. But his choice, his heart went to Minneapolis.”
Although it is a certainty, that Portland will match any offer sheet given to Batum, from the T-Wolves or any other club, it remains to be seen whether Olshey will remain steadfast in his decision in not accepting a trade. Could Olshey be playing hard-ball in an attempt to drive up the value of any trade package that the T-Wolves would offer? Or will he stay true to his word and hold onto a player that has made it known he wants to play somewhere else? We should find out the initial response at least within the next week, as the signing moratorium ends on Tuesday. Portland would then have three days to match it.