Tonight marks the the return of the fourth, and last remaining member of the 2014-15 Trail Blazers starting lineup to make his return to Portland on a visiting team. Nicolas Batum and the Charlotte Hornets are in town for tonight's match up. Erik Gundersen of The Columbian spoke with Batum about his first time back in the Moda Center after seven years as a Trail Blazer. Per Gundersen:
Batum was traded to Charlotte just before the NBA draft in exchange for Gerald Henderson and Noah Vonleh, which was the start of a complete roster overhaul this summer that saw 80 percent of the starting line-up for the last two years switch teams.
But Batum’s case is different and he wants to make it very clear to Blazers fans: leaving was not his choice.
"I ain’t left by myself," Batum said after Charlotte’s Friday morning shoot around. "That’s it. I mean I understand the business side of this league but I spent 7 great years here. We have great memories, some up and down."
Batum has only one regret looking back on his time as a Blazer.
"The only regret I have is maybe free agency," Batum said. "The way things went, my agent, what I said. I’m glad they matched. I’m glad they matched, trust me."
Blazers fans may remember how this episode played out over Batum's free agency period and how it wasn't taken too well from the Portland side of things. For a refresher you can take a look here at what Mike Prada of SBNation.com had to say back in 2012, here.
On his return to Portland Batum had this to say:
"I spent 7 years in the same locker room, same bench, coming back after 6-7 months on the other side it's kind of weird," Batum said. "It's going to be a special night for me to be back. It's a good feeling to be back here. this is one of the best arenas in the NBA, biggest or craziest fans in the league too."
Batum and the Hornets (22-24) take on the Trail Blazers (21-26) tonight at the Moda Center at 7:00 p.m. PST.
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