Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today Sports writes that Portland Trail Blazers forward Nicolas Batum has been worth the four-year, $46.5 million contract he signed last summer.
"A lot of times when players sign a new contract, they expect an immediate jump," [Blazers coach Terry] Stotts said. "The truth is, he's 24 and what I told him was I wanted to help him expand his game, particularly offensively, so he can be a facilitator, a pick-and-roll player, a post-up player, a consummate all-around player rather than just being a catch-and-shoot player. He's still developing that. It's wrong for people to expect that that's going to change overnight just because he signed a contract."
"Every year, I have improved and upgraded my game," Batum said. "I felt like this year should be my year. After last year, I got a little more playing time and I started to become more of a leader. It feels normal for me to be one of the go-to guys on this team."
"With a coach giving him more freedom and the team investing in him, that gives him more confidence," Aldridge said. "We are all looking forward to seeing what's next. He'll continue to get better. He'll be that big-time second option and that will make us more better - as me and him continue to grow."
-- Ben Golliver | firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter