Batum happy in Portland despite signing T'wolves offer sheet

Associated Press
7/20/2012 4:44:06 PM
Decrease Text SizeIncrease Text Size
Text Size

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Don't believe the hype, Nicolas Batum says. He's very happy he's remaining with the Portland Trail Blazers.

Batum met with the media Friday at the Blazers' practice facility and downplayed his free agency dalliances with the Minnesota Timberwolves.

"I wanted to be in Minnesota, it's true," Batum said. "But I wanted to be back (in Portland). It was a tough choice, believe me."

In the end, the choice wasn't his. The Blazers locked up the 23-year-old restricted free agent Wednesday when they matched a four-year offer sheet from the Minnesota Timberwolves worth a reported $45 million.

Batum, a native of France and a four-year NBA veteran, said he worried that Portland would not match the offer.

"I told my girlfriend, imagine if they don't match," Batum said. "I don't want to have to play against these guys."

But as general manager Neil Olshey had promised all along, Portland did match, putting an end to nearly three weeks of speculation about whether Batum would return after averaging 13.9 points and 4.9 rebounds last season.

Under an aggressive free agency strategy employed by his agent, Batum took offers from other teams while refusing to talk to Portland until he received an offer.

The offer came early from Wolves President David Kahn, who let it be known that Batum was Minnesota's top free agent priority. After Olshey indicated that the Blazers would match any offer to Batum, Kahn attempted to engineer a sign-and-trade deal with the Blazers.

Batum acknowledged Friday that he was concerned about how fans would perceive his free agency strategy, and took pains to explain that he was never unhappy in Portland and that much of his publicized frustration last season was about the Blazers' struggles. Portland stumbled to a 28-38 season and endured coach Nate McMillan's midseason firing.

"Last year, I was mad about basketball," Batum said. "All of this process was basketball only, not about the city or anything."

Batum said Minnesota and New Orleans were his favoured destinations because of Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman and Hornets coach Monty Williams, a former Portland assistant. And while he chafed under his role for McMillan, who used him primarily as a spot-up shooter on the wing, Batum said he trusted Olshey to hire a good coach. He said he wasn't going to give his opinion on what kind of coach he would prefer.

Batum did not try to downplay the importance of the payday, which makes him one of the highest-paid small forwards in the NBA. He acknowledged he ended up with more money than he expected and said his first purchase will be a big house for his mother in France.

"I can't lie," he said. "That's a great contract."

Nicolas Batum (Photo: The Canadian Press)


(Photo: The Canadian Press)
Share This

Share This

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to FarkAdd to TwitterAdd to Stumble UponAdd to Reddit
Print this Story

Big Tour

A Historic Event

It was Canada's night at the NBA Draft as four players from north of the border were selected.

1. Andrew Wiggins - Cavaliers

8. Nik Stauskas - Kings

18. Tyler Ennis - Suns

45. Dwight Powell - Hornets

2014 NBA Draft Tracker

Social Media
twitter icon

Follow the Raptors and Raptor play-by-play man Matt Devlin on Twitter! Check out the latest Tweets!


TSN 1050: 1On1 With Will & Duane - August 31st 2014

After drubbing Finland; is Team USA too confident? Will & Duane examine this, the Raptors at FIBA World Cup, Durant's Nike deal, WNBA Playoffs & more

TSN 1050: 1On1 With Will & Duane - August 24th 2014

Love for Wiggins is official! Is the future bright for Minny? DeMar DeRozan makes USMNT, Tim Leiweke steps down from Raptors & what's next for Kobe?

TSN 1050: 1On1 With Will & Duane - Aug 10th 2014

Love-Wiggins done deal? KD: The Real Reasons, what's next for USA Basketball, Becky Hammon breaks barriers & Naismith 2014 Hall of Fame Inductees

More Podcasts

© 2014
All rights reserved.
Bell Media Television