Hands Off, Buford!

A friend of ours from France, Julien, directs our attention to this article from the French website l'Equipe.  It contains an interview with Blazer forward Nicolas Batum.  This is the excerpt in question:

A un niveau personnel, cela a aussi été une bonne année, car j'ai beaucoup joué, ce qui était quand même inespéré en début d'année. 18 minutes par match, je ne l'imaginais qu'en D-League. Pas en NBA. J'ai été 76 fois titulaire durant la saison régulière, dans une équipe qui gagne, c'est bien. Je suis content. Et apparemment, cela a plu. Les Blazers sont contents, et les Spurs(qui le voulaient le soir de la draft) me suivent toujours. Après notre dernier match à San Antonio, RC Buford (le manager des Spurs) est venu me voir pour me dire : 'Tu seras bientôt en noir et argent.' Mais je suis bien à Portland...

Julien offers this translation:

Personally, it has been a very good year, because of the time i spend on the court. At the beginnig of this season, nobody expected that i played that much. 18 min per game, I imagined it just in D-League, not in NBA. I've been 76 times a starter during the regular season in a winning team, that's good. I'm happy. And apparently, a lot of people are happy. The Blazers are happy and the Spurs (franchise that wanted Nicolas so bad during draft night) still observing me. After our last game at San Antonio, RC Buford (Spurs' general manager) came to told me : "You will be soon in black and silver". But still, i'm great in Portland.

Now I know that side conversations between players and officials from other teams go on all the time.  They aren't meant for public consumption.  But "You will soon be in black and silver" is treading pretty close to the fighting line with me.  I wonder how close to the tampering line it treads as well?  That doesn't seem entirely acceptable.

That aside, has San Antonio got anyone you'd take at this point for Batum?  Anyone they'd reasonably give, that is.  Or was Buford just hoping the Blazers would fall asleep at the switch and let Batum drift into unrestricted free agency off of his rookie contract somehow?

Thanks to Julien for the heads up.

I guess now it's time for K.P. to start whispering in Tony Parker's ear.

--Dave (blazersub@yahoo.com)

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