Blazers Officially Extend Qualifying Offer To F Nicolas Batum

The Portland Trail Blazers announced on Monday that they have issued a qualifying offer to forward Nicolas Batum, making him a restricted free agent on July 1.

The Portland Trail Blazers have extended a qualifying offer to forward Nicolas Batum, it was announced today by General Manager Neil Olshey.

Batum will become a restricted free agent on July 1, ensuring that the Trail Blazers will have right of first refusal should another team try to sign him. The move gives Portland the right to match any contract offer he will receive.

Batum, 23, holds averages of 10.2 points, 3.9 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 26.2 minutes in 255 games (202 starts) with the Trail Blazers over four NBA seasons. A native of Lisieux, France, Batum was acquired by Portland in a draft day trade with Houston in June 2008.

Back in April, Batum said that there was a "99 percent" chance that the Blazers would match any offer made to him in restricted free agency.

The qualifying offer is a $5.4 million placeholder that goes on the books until the two sides negotiate an extension or another team extends an offer sheet to Batum and the Blazers decide whether or not to match.

Update: Joe Freeman of The Oregonian with a killer quote from Bouna Ndiaye, Batum's agent.

Olshey went as far as to compare Batum and teammate LaMarcus Aldridge to the Los Angeles Clippers' All-Stars Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, calling the Blazers' duo a "bedrock" of the future.

"I like that," Ndiaye said, laughing. "Give me Chris Paul money and we will not be fighting too long. Just close your eyes and choose between Chris Paul and Blake Griffin and I'll be fine with that. Give me one of those contracts and you'll have a deal."

-- Ben Golliver | benjamin.golliver@gmail.com | Twitter

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