Plot thickens with Blazers, Batum

Portland will match forward's deal, but trade is possible

By Matt Calkins, Columbian Sports Reporter

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TUALATIN, Ore. -- After spending the past three years playing overseas, Spanish forward Victor Claver finally signed with the Blazers on Wednesday.

However, as reporters convened at the team's practice facility for the first summer leage workout, most of the interest lay in the fate of a Blazer who is currently overseas.

Portland restricted free agent Nicolas Batum is in France right now, but the forward was on record Tuesday saying that Minnesota was his preferred destination once the season began.

And when Blazers general manager Neil Olshey was asked about Batum's desire, he terminated all chances at becoming a future spokesman for the Land of 10,000 Lakes.

"I guess he's into mosquito bites and frostbite," Olshey said.

Batum's agent, Bouna Ndiaye, has been anything but subtle about broadcasting his client's aspirations of becoming a Timberwolf, going so far as to say that Nic was unhappy in Portland.

Batum denied that claim, which was probably smart, because Olshey said Wednesday that he still intended to match any offer sheet Minnesota would tender, even though the Wolves' offer reportedly is for $45 million over four years.

"I don't believe in letting talent walk out the door," Olshey added.

And apparently, Ndiaye doesn't believe in negotiating. At least not in Batum's case. Olshey said that the agent refused to sit down with him and work out a deal, choosing instead to let Batum test the free agent market.

And then came another development.

Wednesday afternoon, ESPN's Ric Bucher reported that Portland and Minnesota were discussing a trade scenario that would bring Batum to the Timberwolves in exchange for two future first-round draft picks and a veteran small forward acquired from a third team.