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Monday, July 16, 2012

$46 million for Nicolas Batum? Really?

Has he done $11.5-million-a-year work on the Blazers? We'd say let him go. Especially since at the rate the Blazers' training staff is going, Batum's due for some long down times with injuries over the next four years. And until the Blazers find a credible coach, none of their talent is really worth squat, anyway.

Comments (20)

I couldn't agree more. How far has Batum taken the Blazers in the play-offs? I doubt the Blazers are going anywhere next year with or without Batum and he will just get physically worn down next year. The Blazers should have taken what Minnesota had to offer in trade.

ALL of those people are over paid!

Like Batum, but his position is replaceable at a lot less than $11.5M. Save up for the free agent market next year.

Give them some kudos on Felton - I'd would've taken a meal upgrade on a BigMac for him.

There's a snag in the Felton deal - he's holding out for one more chilupa before he leaves town.

I say rejoice, Nic Batum fans, because it looks like he's staying here in town where he'll go on being a tremendous addition to our team and our community.

Letting him go now, when the Blazers could have gotten picks for him and another player, would be crazy. It's time to match the offer and hope that Batum continues getting better at the rate he's shown so far, and is free to play his style with our incredible new point guard, Damian Lillard, who showed great promise in summer league last night.

And don't blame Nic Batum for the fact that a bunch of old NBA guys decided to throw many millions of dollars at him. That's not his fault. Let's review how this happened:

1983 was a significant year for this deal. Not for Nic - he hadn't been born yet - but for three men who would play key roles in all this. It was in 1983 that Dwight Jaynes welcomed a new reporter, David Kahn, to the sports desk at the Oregonian, and it was also the year the Blazers hired a young assistant coach named Rick Adelman.

The 1988/89 NBA season also looms large in what happened this week. Over in France, in December 1988, Nicolas Batum was born. By then, these men, Jaynes, Kahn and Adelman had already known each other for years. The 1988/89 NBA season was when Rick Adelman was named the Blazers head coach. Also in 1989, David Kahn would say farewell to his colleague Dwight Jaynes, depart the Oregonian, and eventually end up in Minnesota after making the unlikely leap from sports reporter to NBA general manager.

Where the idea would first come from for Nic Batum to go to the Timberwolves, is unknown. Certainly there were many NBA teams that noticed Nic's great basketball talent. There was also something great happening in Minnesota. They had a creative, brilliant point guard named Ricky Rubio, a monster rebounder/scorer named Kevin Love and a new coach - the outstanding Rick Adelman.

Comments of sympathy made by NBA players after Ricky Rubio's unfortunate knee injury during the season, prove that many players and fans were watching what was happening in Minnesota and loving what they saw, so it is possible that Nic arrived at the idea of going there on his own.

Of course, Dwight Jaynes is fond of saying how he knows Nic off the court, how he served as MC at Batum's charity foundation banquet, and also how Dwight Jaynes thought the way the Blazers used Batum was all wrong - but let's just assume Dwight had no role in suggesting that Batum go elsewhere. Maybe they only talked about non-basketball things, like the theater.

And let's also assume Dwight played no early role in discussing Nic going to Minnesota, in conversations with his old connections Dave Kahn and Rick Adelman. Maybe they only talked about fishing.

Incidentally, it is unclear how Dwight feels about David Kahn personally, but he loves Rick Adelman, and wrote a book with him. Forget all that though.

Let's stick with the notion that they never talked about Batum going to Minnesota and both sides of this arrived at the idea without any strings being pulled locally. Oh, and let's ignore that Dwight calls himself the Godfather - after a movie with a poster that features strings being pulled.

Even if you accept all that, it would be hard to believe that Minnesota's Dave Kahn, having decided to go after Nic Batum, wouldn't have consulted with his old colleague from the Portland days. You would have to suspect that Kahn asked Dwight Jaynes for advice on this deal. After all, they needed a number that would be so high that a sign and trade would be all that would make sense. They needed the chances of this deal working because, if it is too high for our future cap room, it is too high for the Timberwolves to deal with too.

Besides, you can't start planning too early and have too much information in a situation like this, and Dwight was right here, monitoring what was going on for Comcast Sports. So what did Dwight think was happening with the Blazers?

Dwight thought the Blazers were about to be sold. He felt the vacancy at GM was to allow the new owners to pick their own candidate, and he saw other moves as ways to position the cap and draft picks for a new owner to step in with clear options. Nate McMillan had been fired, and most people felt that the new guy was an interim coach, once again, so the new owners could make that decision when they got here. In short, Dwight saw a team basically throwing in the towel as Paul Allen prepared to unload it.

The timing of all this is unclear, but these old colleagues from the 80s had to have discussed this deal. The fact that it is a little screwy financially speaking, is not Nic Batum's fault. These guys were old friends before Nic Batum was born.

Meanwhile, Batum has been nothing but nice to the city of Portland. He is a tremendous young man who had every right to want to play somewhere else after the debacle of last season. He can't be blamed because some old colleagues from the 80s had an epic failure of reasoning.

I say, if the Blazers match, welcome back Nic Batum. You're a great young person, and it's not your fault that a bunch of old NBA guys don't know how to make a deal.

Kudos, Bill McDonald! Finally, someone with a rant/conspiracy theory to rival Tensky. Well done, my friend, well done.

(Also - Let. Batum. Go.)

Here's another rant/conspiracy theory: Larry Legend has to be Larry Bird because nobody would be lame enough to use someone else's nickname on the blogs. So, Larry, even though you're leaving the Pacers, you're still upset about the Hibbert offer. I get that.

Dammit. Cover blown.

To paraphrase another Celtics legend: "If all you eat is chalupas, you'll play like chalupas." (John Havlicek).

There are a ton of players that are over paid that are much less capable than Batum. Sure the money is too much. So what?

I think Bill is on to something. And don't forget that Kahn is a general manager of an NBA team, while Dwight is still a reporter. So there is an added ego-boosting incentive for Dwight to try to be more that he is by serving as the inside broker to this deal.

It would certainly explain how Dwight treated Batum during all this. It appeared to me that Dwight was trying to drive a wedge between Portland and Batum, making the deal more likely to go through.

I still wonder about Dwight's post where he said that an offer from Minnesota to Batum would freeze our salary cap for that amount, and hurt our chances of getting Hibbert. That one even went to Indiana, before it was corrected there. Dwight - though he was called out repeatedly - never admitted he was wrong about it, choosing to leave this take on the negative impact Nic was having, out there for Blazer fans, even though it was incorrect.

Then Dwight said his sources told him Batum wanted "no part" of playing for the Blazers, and then after Batum denied saying that, Dwight basically said Batum was lying. Finally, a reporter asked Batum if he would be upset if he had to come back to Portland and Batum said no.

But the real proof is Dwight's description of Batum flying out here "on his own dime" to "give a message" to the Blazers - that he wanted "no part" of playing here.

Meanwhile, Batum's own agent said they were here to "request" a trade. At this point Dwight was being more strident about Batum leaving Portland than Batum's own agent.

Dwight claims that was just semantics, but "delivering a message" and making a request are two different things.

Dwight knows how to use words. Semantics? That's what he does for a living.

For example, Nic could just take the qualifying offer - reported by Dwight to be 5.4 million although I've read it could be less - and then be free to go anywhere in another year if he truly wanted "no part" of playing here. Dwight called the 5.4 million number a "pittance." A pittance? Give me a break.

All this went away in time. Nic proved he wanted some part of playing for the Blazers when he signed the offer sheet.

But how much damage was done?

This depiction of Batum as just another disgruntled athlete making demands after entering into a contract, was completely unfair to Nic, and the blowback started among Blazer fans immediately.

The tone was, "If Nic wants no part of playing here, he can get the hell out." Indeed, Batum even began getting racist tweets showering the hate on him and his girlfriend. This was at least partly as a result of Dwight's characterization of Batum's attitude, linked far and wide on the Internet.

As I said on Dwight's blog, if Nic Batum gets booed in his first game at the Rose Garden next season - and I hope he doesn't - those boos should be directed in part at Dwight Jaynes for helping to stir this up.

I'm writing this as a Nic Batum fan - I think that's obvious - but I think just as a "people" thing, the idea of this old, cynical guy treating a 23-year-old like this is shabby. And if he did it to try and help his old buddies, Adelman and Kahn, it's disgraceful.

I also want to point out that when the rumors that San Antonio was interested in Batum, started surfacing several months back, the Blazers fans I talked with were in agreement that it would be a great opportunity, and we couldn't see holding Batum back from it. So this wasn't a case of Portlanders not being able to deal with the idea of him leaving. Heck, the Batum fans I know, just want the best for him, and San Antonio is close to the best. Remember, Minnesota was 26 and 40 last year.

I think this could have been handled better by our Hall of Fame sports reporter.

After all, Dwight's sources also had the team about to be sold, so he should have held back a little here and explained what was happening in a reasonable, fair way.

Here's the real point: If the Blazers match this offer, we should welcome having Nic Batum back in Portland for the quality individual that he is. The deal is not his fault.

I don't follow sprots all that much, but Jaynes has always seemed to me to be a bit over the top in the ego department.

Thanks, Bill, for the rest of the story.

Yes, thanks for lowdown on the backstory, Bill. Never cared
much for Jaynes' stuff, for reasons already mentioned here and more.

"Letting him go now, when the Blazers could have gotten picks for him and another player, would be crazy. It's time to match the offer and hope that Batum continues getting better at the rate he's shown so far, and is free to play his style with our incredible new point guard, Damian Lillard, who showed great promise in summer league last night."

1) As far as getting picks for him, at $11.5M no one will want him.

2) If Batum gets better we'll have one more swing player who is a defensive liability, its easy enough to find those now.

2) "showed great promise in summer league" he looks good against a bunch of rookies in a summer game = great career?

Dude, one of your arguments is that we should let talent go because don't currently have a coach to make use of it? You know we'll hire one of those right? Naw, you're right. We should just give up.

1) As far as getting picks for him, at $11.5M no one will want him.

Well, until the final year of his contract, when that's a nice big expiring contract to reduce cap space, and is when we'll be able to trade him for picks.

From what I have read everyone who has met him dislikes David Kahn. There was a certain amount of amazement when he was able to hire Rick Adelman because everyone assumed that because he knew David Kahn in Portland there was no way he would work for him in Minnesota.

Certainly his actions last week where Kahn was making offers to Batum that weren't supportable by their current salary structure were suspicious. Still, I understand why Nic would wish to play in Minnesota for Adelman. But my advice to Nic would also be to be careful what you wish for.

If Portland brings in Mike D'Antonio as coach Nic will be missing out on an opportunity to play really wide open basketball. No more just hanging around in the corner shooting 3's in that system.

Steve,
Minnesota's offer was picks and a player, in a sign and trade. Apparently our new GM wasn't impressed so Minnesota finally did the steps needed to give Batum an offer sheet.

As far as the rookies last night, I'm thrilled with how they did, but you're right, it's one summer league game.

Go Blazers.

If they match the offer sheet I think it's a smart move unless we can make a trade that "moves the needle" so to speak. It seems that this restricted free agent offer sheet business is a great way to force/extort teams you don't like to overpay their players. It seems that there is a lot of bad blood between these two teams. It's possible Minnesota knew full well that Portland would match the offer so they went ahead and did the offer sheet out of spite. Nic is laughing all the way to the bank and Dwight was his major accomplice. It's only Paul Allen's money so who really cares if he's getting overpaid? BTW the Oregonian did a nice article on what small forwards are getting these days and this puts Nic at something like #12 in the league which is pretty consistent with the stats of the other players making the same money he's making.

Speaking of sticking it to people,did we think Pacers would not match big overpriced contract for Hibbert? Who's the GM at Indiana?

"Well, until the final year of his contract, when that's a nice big expiring contract to reduce cap space,"

Than give him $30M a year.


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