FanShot

Sierra: Nicolas Batum Won't Be Upset With Portland Return

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Jorge Sierra of HoopsHype.com has an interview with Portland Trail Blazers restricted free agent forward Nicolas Batum from French National team training camp. ------------------------------------------ Is it a stressful situation for you to go through camp with France while you are still a free agent? NB: That's not easy, thinking about both things... I think my contract will be done in a couple of days and then I can really focus on the National Team. There was a report that you have received nasty, even racist messages via Twitter. NB: That's part of being a pro athlete. During the season it's the same. When you play good, you are the best person in the world and when you play bad you are the worst person in the world. Are you going to be upset if you have to go back to Portland? NB: No. ------------------------------------------ Batum has reportedly agreed to a 4-year, $45 million offer sheet with the Minnesota Timberwolves. At 9 p.m. Pacific on Tuesday night, the NBA's free agency moratorium will be lifted and Batum will be free to sign the offer sheet. If and when that happens, Portland has three days to decide whether or not to match the offer sheet and retain him. Last week, Blazers GM Neil Olshey told Batum and Ndiaye that the team would match any offers and would not agree to a sign-and-trade. On Monday, Olshey hedged on that, refusing to repeat that declaration to a group of reporters and instead saying he would do what's in the best interests of the Blazers in the short-term and long-term. At least one writer believes Olshey could be interested in pursuing a sign-and-trade now that the Blazers were unable to acquire Indiana Pacers restricted free agent center Roy Hibbert. Batum's agent, Bouna Ndiaye, has made numerous comments indicating that his client would prefer to play for the Timberwolves rather than the Blazers next season. He even said that it Batum's "dream" to play in Minnesota. Prior to this interview, Batum had declined comment on his situation. Also on Thursday, a report indicated that the Blazers told Batum and his agent that they would match any offer sheet and would not participate in any sign-and-trades. Batum denied a report earlier this week that he was so unhappy with the Blazers that he wanted "no part" of returning. Batum's other suitors were said to include the New Orleans Hornets, Toronto Raptors and Cleveland Cavaliers. They can offer Batum a 4-year contract while Portland can add a fifth year. Batum said back in April that he was "99 percent" sure that the Blazers would match any offer made to him and the team's ownership and management has consistently referred to him as one of the roster's core pieces. The Blazers extended a qualifying offer to Batum back in June. Batum, 23, averaged 13.9 points, 4.6 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 1.0 blocks and 1.0 steals in 30.4 minutes for the Blazers last season. ed: text edited, bumped to front page
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