Today has been an eventful day for the Blazers. I can start off with the Batum problem I wrote about yesterday. Today, Minnesota Timberwolves GM David Kahn took another step towards being able to offer a contract to Nicolas Batum. He waived former Blazer Martell Webster and participated in a trade with the New Orleans Hornets. In this trade, the Timberwolves sent Brad Miller and two future second round draft picks for a first round draft pick from the Hornets. Because Miller retired midway through his contract, Minnesota still had to pay the remaining salary to him. They took that off the cap by sending him down south.
Blazers GM Neil Olshey has been quoted as saying he has seen the signed offer sheet, but because it hasn’t been signed by Batum and sent into the NBA, the 72 hour timer Portland would then have (mentioned in last blog) has not yet started. Kahn is seemingly threatening to offer the contract to Batum, so that he can engage in what he seems to prefer, a sign-and-trade.
Today at about 3:40 pm PST, David Kahn spoke with press via video call, something he rarely does. Kahn said he liked Batum and he compared Batum to Chase Budinger, who the Timberwolves traded for right before Draft Day 2012 from the Houston Rockets. Kahn said Batum was the missing piece and that his 3-point shooting has improved.
Now that Minnesota has cleared the cap space, they need to wait 48 hours before they can even offer the contract to Batum so that Martell Webster can clear his waiver forms. It is expected that Batum would sign the offer sheet from Minnesota on Sunday at 2:00 pm PST.
In other news, Portland signed 4 guys to new contracts. This brings the Blazers roster to 14 including Batum. They signed J.J. Hickson to a 1 year, $4 million contract. Given the way he played for the Blazers in the final 19 games of the season, he deserves every bit of that contract. I believe Olshey even said that if Hickson played the way he did last season for Portland, he would have a spot on this team in the future. After all, he is only 23 and a half years old.
Portland also inked Joel Freeland, a power forward and center from the United Kingdom. He was drafted by the Blazers on Draft Day 2006, and has been playing in the UK for the past 6 years. His first NBA contract is 3 years, $9 million, and Freeland was quoted as saying that this offer was too good to pass up, and I see Freeland having a huge impact relatively soon.
The other two players Portland signed were rookies Damian Lillard (#6 pick in 2012 NBA Draft) and Meyers Leonard (#11 pick in 2012 NBA Draft). The details of the contract were not released. I would also expect to see Olshey sign Will Barton (#40 pick in 2012 NBA Draft), as Olshey even said the contract was guaranteed contract for Barton. I can write about the reason of the guaranteed contract to a #40 pick in the draft later, though.
Portland seems to have had a fairly positive day today, and I think the roster is beginning to fill its holes now.
Until next time,