In an uncomfortable minutes bind that was revealed during the second game of the season, Portland Trail Blazers forward Nicolas Batum has found himself getting short shrift behind Gerald Wallace.
Kevin Pelton of Basketball Prospectus took up the issue earlier Wednesday after Batum played a season-low 16 minutes on Tuesday night against the Los Angeles Clippers.
Kerry Eggers of the Portland Tribune has extensive quotes on the subject from Batum, Wallace, Blazers Acting GM Chad Buchanan and coach Nate McMillan. It's a similar refrain to what's been said since the lockout ended, for the most part.
"We value Nic and what he means to our team," Buchanan says. "We want to see if there’s a number that fits on both ends. Both sides have to look out for their own interests, but we like what he has done for us and hope he is a Blazer for years."
Asked if he can afford to pay both small forwards, Buchanan is noncommittal. "We have to look long term for next summer," he says. "You have to determine what the fair number is" for both players.
"It’s harder to play off the bench," Batum says. "When you start, you warm up and you go straight into the game. (As a reserve), I’ve got to watch for a while. This is just something I have to do."
McMillan is sympathetic to that. "Everybody’s game suffers if you don’t get the minutes," he says. "As a player, you want minutes, you need minutes.
Dwight Jaynes and Ian Furness interviewed Batum during a CSNNW pre-game show prior to Tuesday night's game, and here's what he had to say about the importance of minutes on his contract negotiation.
"I'm a basketball player first," Batum said. "I want to play basketball first. Playing time is huge for me, maybe the first thing."
Asked if playing time was more important even than money, Batum said: "Maybe."
He also praised Wallace and said he understands the reality of his situation. "I got to earn it. G is playing like an All-Star right now."
Eggers was named the Oregon Sportswriter of the Year by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association this week.
clinchmobb notes in the FanShots that Zach Lowe of SI.com sees the Blazers facing a difficult decision with Wallace this summer.
-- Ben Golliver | firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter