On Friday, the Portland Trail Blazers officially announced the re-signing of forward Nicolas Batum, a move they first indicated they would make on Wednesday when they announced that they would match a 4-year, $46.5 million offer sheet extended to Batum by the Minnesota Timberwolves.
The following is a full transcript of Batum's availability.
How does it feel to have this done?
Finally. It's a long process. Just glad to have it done and glad to be back. I can play with the National Team, because I was about to play with them but I was sitting on the side. I'm glad to have things done and I can move on.
How satisfied are you with the result?
Great. I can't lie, that's a great contract. Come on. That's a great contract. I'm glad I ended up here with a great contract with the team that drafted me. In this business, especially right now, it's tough to get drafted and get two contracts from the same team. I'm just really happy to be part of this organization again.
How much of this was about getting the contract?
In January, I knew I was going to be in free agency. I looked at Minnesota because it was a good situation. Especially with the coaching staff. You have to say that Rick Adelman is one of the best coaches in the NBA. But I knew, that's a good thing about free agency, I knew I was going to be happy either way. I'm going to be happy if I play in Minnesota, with a great coach and great organization. And I'm going to be happy tonight because I'm going to be home.
What happened with your comments saying you preferred Minnesota?
Like I said, when you're restricted free agent, you can't choose, you can be back home. All this process, I knew it because I read everything, even when they got Neil [Olshey], that was two or three weeks before free agency opened, he said the only thing we want is we want Nic back. I knew I was going to be back. I knew it. I knew I was going to sign an offer sheet in Minnesota, Miami or New York, they were going to sign it anyway. So, in my mind, I knew it. I talked to my friends and family every time, I can protect myself right now because I'm going to be back in Portland anyway.
When I came last week, I visited Minnesota and I told my agent I wanted to meet them and say what I had to say. When I landed, I felt like I was home. I talked to my girlfriend and I said I felt like home. It's not maybe the most exciting city in the world, trust me, I'm from Paris, it's a big city with more things to do, but I felt like I was home.
When was this?
Last week, or two weeks ago.
After that, you said you wanted to go to Minnesota
Have you heard that from my mouth? Have you heard my voice say I don't want to be in Portland?
You didn't say that but you did say you would rather be in Minnesota
Like I said, the coaching staff was huge for me. I don't talk about the city or the fans, I know this is the best fans in the world. I always say that and keep saying that because it's true. When it comes to basketball I had a couple of choices. Two choices. My two choices were Minnesota and New Orleans. Because of the coaching staffs.
Did Minnesota make you make some of your comments?
I wanted to go to Minnesota, it's true. I didn't know what I wanted to do. I'm going to sign an offer sheet and see what happens.
So you did want to go to Minnesota?
I wanted to go to Minnesota but I wanted to be back. That was a tough choice, trust me. I was glad to be a restricted free agent because it wasn't my choice. I'm going to do this because we didn't find a deal in January. I had to do this. They had a chance to but we didn't find a deal. I have to do it. I had to find the best situation for me. Minnesota was a good one. I didn't say that was a better situation for me than Portland. The two cities were a better situation for me, both, so I could only pick one thing. I had Minnesota, Portland, if you really want me, match. If you don't want me, let me go.
If you were free, you would have gone to Minnesota?
I don't think so. I don't know.
Did your agent misspeak when he said your heart wasn't in Portland any more?
Last year, I was mad about basketball. I didn't say my heart wasn't out of the city. We didn't talk about the city. All of this process was about basketball only. Not about the city or the fans. Basketball only. I played seven years in pro, in France and the NBA, and never been part of a losing team and never missed the playoffs in my life. Never. Last year, I didn't know how to handle all the situations. Being part of a losing team, watching the playoffs on TV, lottery pick, when I saw the team and the lottery pick, I was like, 'We should not be there.'
Better basketball situation next season?
I'm very excited. When all this process was going on, we didn't sign all those guys yet, we didn't have a coach. We had only Wes [Matthews], [LaMarcus Aldridge] and the rookies. I was joking about it but last year we had only one non-American guy. Now we got two more Euros.
Worried about how you'll be received?
Yes. Yes, because I love this city and love the fans. This city gave me the last four years, was unbelievable. I was 19-year-old from France and this city welcomed me with open arms. I was worried, I heard a lot of stuff on my Twitter, people get mad, I understand that because those fans love their team. When I got here two days ago and the media was there, I go back to my hotel and people were happy for me. I was worried. I think people understand the process and the business situation. I'm happy to be back, those people are happy for me. I'm just glad to be here because this is the best fans in the world. I was talking to my girlfriend: imagine if they don't match. I won't like to play against those guys because coming into the Rose Garden it would be tough. I'm glad to be back so I don't have to play against them.
So you're totally happy?
Of course, yeah. I'm happy to be home. I got a good contract and I can play next week. I can't complain.
Did you ever expect a contract this big?
No. Really, no. To be honest, this contract is more than what I expected.
Anything you would have done differently?
Have a better season.
You ready to step up and deliver with this contract?
I have to do it. I tried to do it last year, especially when [Brandon] Roy retired. I know I've got more expectations for the next four years now. People are going to say he's overpaid and I have to show them I'm worth it.
Were you unhappy with your role?
I wouldn't say I wasn't happy but when you're a young guy you want to play. The thing I learned in France before I got drafted you have to make sacrifices. I played with a guy named Brandon Roy, one of the top guys in the league, I played with Andre Miller, LaMarcus Aldridge, I know I won't score 15 or 20 points per game in my first three years because I had so many good guys around me. People heard that I was mad against Nae [McMillan]. I can't be mad against Nate. This guy, after Summer League, all the staff told me they would put me in the D-League and see me in two years and I started 76 games. Nate put me on the court and I started 76 games my rookie year. I can't be mad because he put me on the court right away. I'm here right now because he put on the court, he trusted me. Now that I have this contract I have to thank coach Nate.
How do you want your game to evolve?
I've got to be more of a leader. I know L.A. is a go-to guy and I have to be the No. 2 option. I learned that on the national team. Tony Parker is the go-to guy and I'm the No. 2 option. I have to transfer that to the NBA now. I know sometimes L.A> is going to be tired or get double-teamed, I have to be there every night. Sometimes I have to be the NO. 1 guy also. Show the people, Neil said they were going to match anything and to be honest I didn't think they were going to match this. I thought it was too high. I didn't expect them to match it, it was too high. And they did it. That means they trust me. I like it, it shows me that they really believe in me more than I thought.
Talked to LaMarcus Aldridge and Wesley Matthews?
I talked to L.A. yesterday and wished him Happy Birthday. He's very happy for me, very excited that I'm back. I hate Wesley right now because he knew it every day. Since the first day I left, he said, 'I'll see you next year.' We don't know if they'll match, we'll see. And he called me and said, 'I told you.'
What style do you want? What type of coach?
I trust Neil. I know he's going to get a great coach. Try everything to put this team back in the playoffs. I know he interviewed Phil Jackson and Jerry Sloan, the expectation he has is that he wants to get the best.
I was frustrated but not about the coach, the team situation because we didn't win. I wasn't frustrated because of the coach.
I want a coach who puts me in a good situation and makes this team win. I know I have to do that. I talked to Neil the lats two or three days, he told me he was going to get a coach that would put [me], L.A. and Wes in a great situation.
What do you want to see from a basketball standpoint?
I don't know. I'll talk with the coach and let you know.
Did you want your agent to negotiate directly with the Blazers?
That's what I liked about being a restricted free agent. If I was an unrestricted free agent they would have talked directly to them. I knew they were going to have to match anyway. I had to see somewhere else and then they match.
What are you going to buy?
I'm going to buy a big house for my mom in France. That's the first thing I have to do. I got here Wednesday at noon, I visited three houses already. I think I'm going to buy one.
Thoughts on Damian Lillard and Summer League team
I watched one game because the game is a little bit late in France. I practiced with the National Team so I can't be up so late. I [saw Lillard's dunk], I saw on Twitter and I watched it. He's a nice pick. He can play. We need a good point guard, quick point guard. It's going to be exciting to play with him. I watched one game with the Rockets. I didn't sleep that night because I had to catch my flight. That's when Nolan [Smith] got hurt. I like him. I like him.
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