It’s finally over. The drama that was the game of tug-and-war between Minnesota Timberwolves GM David Kahn and Portland Trail Blazers GM Neil Olshey is over, and in the end, Olshey won. It was officially announced today that the Blazers would match the contract Minnesota offered to restricted free-agent forward Nicolas Batum, which was rumored to be worth $46.5 million over 4 years, with bonuses potentially taking it to $50 million.
I say that the $46.5 million contract was “rumored,” for two reasons, and Olshey uncovered those reasons on Wednesday. The first problem with the contract Minnesota offered was all about the bonuses. It turns out that the league disallowed those bonuses, taking away at most $3.5 million from the contract. Secondly, the contract was actually not worth the rumored $46.5 million. It was really $43.5 million, saving the Blazers about $3 million to use in either participating in an uneven trade or in a free-agent signing. In fact, according to Olshey, with the signings of Ronnie Price (see last blog) and Batum, Portland still somehow happens to be under the cap limit.
In the first two years of his contract, Batum will make $10.7 million each year. In the third year, he earns $10.9 million, and in the final year of this contract, he will make $11.2 million dollars. With the high salary though, comes high responsibility. Olshey says that Batum will have to take on a role of responsibility and leadership, now that he is the second highest paid player on the Blazers team, behind LaMarcus Aldridge.
So what was with Batum wanting to play in Minnesota? According to Olshey, Batum has kept in constant contact with the Blazers organization, especially with Olshey, but the thing is, his agent and the Timberwolves didn’t know. Apparently Batum wanted to negotiate a deal straight-up with the Blazers, which Olshey also preferred, but Batum’s agent didn’t want that. Batum did want to go to Minnesota a little bit. His reasoning behind that was that they had a “set-in-stone” coaching staff. That means that the coaches were already there, in place. In Portland’s case, that isn’t true (I can write an article about the coaching search in a little bit). When the comments supposedly came out from Batum about his “heart being in Minnesota,” he apparently spoke with Olshey telling the Blazers that Batum’s agent and the Timberwolves set him up to it. Batum’s agent did what he needed to do to get his client the best possible contract, but he probably made himself one of the most hated men in Portland. Olshey said that the Blazers fans “should in no way resent Nicolas for this,” and I know that I won’t resent Nicolas for this.
Until next time,