Jul 11

GM Neil Olshey On RFA Nicolas Batum's Interactions With Minnesota

By sarahhecht Posted in: freeagency, neilolshey, NicolasBatum

On Wednesday afternoon, the first day free agents can officially sign contracts, Trail Blazers General Manager Neil Olshey spoke with the media regarding the status of Portland’s restricted free agent Nicolas Batum and the multitude of rumors surrounding the future of the small forward.

Nic is on record saying he wants to play in Minnesota, when you hear that what do you think?

I guess he’s into mosquito bites and frostbite. I don’t know what to tell ya. But look, this is the game. This is a little unique, it’s different than our situation with Roy Hibbert because Bouna [Ndiaye] didn’t ask to negotiate with us. I was totally open to negotiate a deal straight-up. He said he wanted to go into the free agent market and do a deal with somebody else and put pressure on us to match or do a sign and trade and that’s his prerogative. That’s the business model they chose for his client and look, Nic has never said a bad word about Portland. Some of the issues he had with being here no longer exist, so I don’t think that’s a problem. The same core group of players is here. He’s a talented kid. The coaches we’re going to talk to will all embrace him being here, will understand that he’s got a skill set that goes beyond what he’s been asked to do the last few years and look, there’s going to be a responsibility that’ll come with that if it works out. Once you get paid the level of expectation goes up and if you’re asking to have more freedom to do other things you need to make sure you can produce. I think Nic’s capable of all of it and over the next few days we’ll sort it all out.

You said before you’re going to match anything, is that still the case?

Yeah. If this goes to an offer sheet, absolutely. I don’t see any reason, nobody here sees any reason to let talent walk out the door. I would’ve preferred to have handled this straight up, but he’s not the only guy signing an offer sheet and he’s not the only guy who’s going to get the offer sheet matched. At the end of the day as long as we create a great basketball environment he’ll have no problem.

Why has it not gone to a sheet yet?

I’m not doing the sheet, so I can’t tell you. I don’t want to speculate, but there’s different reasons. There’s strategic reasons, there’s cap reasons. A lot of times there are sequential orders of business in our league. Minnesota is handling their business, I know Nicolas is a priority for them and they’ve got other things they need to do. They’re not doing Nicolas in a vacuum, they’ve got other roster moves that they need to make one way or another. So, it’s on them and like I said, unless Bouna calls and wants to make a deal straight up, which I would welcome, we’ll just wait on the offer sheet if we can’t work something else out.

Sign and trade is still off the table?

Yeah. Look, you don’t close the door to anything in this league, but from what I can see as far as what they could viably offer, as of today, I would think Nicolas would have more value than whatever they could put into a sign and trade.

Has Minnesota approached you about that?

Yeah, we’ve been talking. David Kahn’s a creative guy. We’ve had a lot of conversations over the last few days and like I said, at this point nothing that they’ve pitched is intriguing enough that it would be more valuable to the organization going forward than Nic. But that doesn’t mean we’re not open to talking, you’re always open to talking.

I know you can’t speak for Kahn, but has he indicated to you that he’s going to extend the offer?

I can’t speak for Kahn. It’s called the wrath of Kahn. I don’t know what to tell ya, I got enough trouble running my own company never mind worrying about running Minnesota’s as well. Look, it’ll all work out. This is part of the problem with the moratorium. It’s been a ten day waiting period and we’re all sitting around and it’s nothing but internet speculation and I think you’ll realize that a lot of the things that we’re reported over the last ten days across the league, how many of them have actually happened? Unless someone substantively said, ‘Hey, we intend to enter into a contract with this player when the moratorium ends,’ a lot of it’s just banter.

Do you think if 30 GMs had their druthers they’d get rid of the moratorium?

No, you can’t. There’s a reason why, but it just puts everybody in a position where, I think prior to the internet, prior to Twitter, I don’t think it was a big deal, but I think now what it does is it forces us to be in a position where we’re constantly commenting on things that didn’t come from the organizations involved, that came from people speculating on the organizations involved.

A couple days ago you said after Hibbert you we’re likely to dip back inot that pool, is that still the case?

Yeah. Roy was our guy. We had targeted Roy, we thought he was a great fit for the organization. When it became apparent that they were going to match we worked directly with David Falk, his agent, we released Roy from the commitment with the caveat that as long as they did an identical deal to the one we were offering it’d be better to do the deal straight up. They would have good will with their player. We had done everything we could, but at that point there was no reason to make it acrimonious. We all work together, we want to do deals together. Donnie Walsh is a great man, he’s someone I’ve always looked up to. So as long as they were willing to match the terms there was no reason to wait a week for it. We freed up our money so we could move on with our business, sign our rookies, they were out here practicing today as a result of it, they got their franchise center back and we live to fight another day.


  1. Thank you Miss Sarah:
    I don't think many of the fans actually thought we would get Hibbert, but I am glad we tried.

    Fans are also confusing Batum saying he likes Minny to saying he doesn't like the Blazers, Of course he likes Minny, with Portland coaches, BRoy, Ricky. I am son to worried about Nic being a professional if in deed Portland keeps him.

    On the bright side of things, the more time it takes Minny to make a offer sheet, the more time we have to fill the roster.

    I like Freeland and Clavor being signed, all our rookies are Gym Rats and will continue to improve as will Matthews, EWill, Batum and Nolan. I read the story about Nolan coming back meaner and more aggressive then last year and make Lillard work for the starting job. I like that.

    Summer league is around the corner and that means we get to see the new players in action and maybe find out who our new coach will be. Everything is going in stages as Olshey said.

    Things are heating up and I am starting to get hyper and it is what 3 month of torture

    by Hg on 7/11/2012 4:29 PM
  2. Hg...tonight we're sending a rep to talk with Asik in Chicago and Olshey is meeting with another player might be Collison time in Indiana and if it is, the Hibbert offer cleared the path by tying up the Pacers we signed Claver and Freeland which gives us the option of trading Nic to Minnesota for some value as well...picks, Ridnour, Williams and maybe even's getting interesting! We're also talking to Javale McGee...the wheels are turning!

    by riverman on 7/11/2012 4:51 PM
  3. great blog sarah. ty for sharing the interview i had missed it today. i like the clear thinking olshey has. I think it is all a part of the bargaining...also with our roster filling up things could go south for batum real quick. too bad it is happening the way it is.

    by oregongal47 view (TG) on 7/11/2012 5:02 PM
  4. Very nice to hear Olshey clear some things up in his own words.

    by mbmurr1 on 7/11/2012 6:00 PM
  5. You don't trade or let your 2nd best player who is your best defender and your best shooter go to a division rival who is a young talented team already. They signed Brandon Roy and if Olshey allows Batum to play for the Wolves then something is really wrong with the picture he has been painting for us fans. Teams have been trying to trade for Batum since his rookie season and if this happens on Olshey's watch he is the wrong man for the job.

    by lightskin350 on 7/11/2012 6:05 PM
  6. @ lightskin350, I disagree. NOW IS the time u trade Batum (when he's worth the most $) bc Por knows approximately what we can get/will get out of him skill wise AND monetarily (b4 when every1 was trying to trade for him, it was all based on potential; $ wise, we wouldn't have been able to come close to being able to get bak how much he was actually worth in $ or potential skill through a trade). I DO agree w/ u about trading players to lowly teams in the East though ;)

    by Simpson on 7/11/2012 7:18 PM
  7. Nice to hear from the GM on the situation. Hopefully it will all work out for the best.

    by Niki C on 7/11/2012 9:08 PM
  8. Dal. just got Collison :( I would say try to make a deal w/ Dal. for him but they really needed a lead pg too & they just got him & I seriously doubt they're going to give him up; Dal. made a VERY smart/good move & came out on top in their trade. The next best choice/fit for our lead pg would b Luke Ridnour (Lillard can learn the most from this guy of the guys that r possibilities & it will take ~2yr. to learn all that Luke has to teach) or A.J. Price (UFA, so he is the most economical fix for the short run; he's good enough to teach Lillard & Lillard should surpass him in about a yr.). If we can't do a sign & trade of Ridinour & Derrick Williams (I'd LOVE to have Pek but the pg is the MOST pressing need right now & Luke is our guy ;) then we simply keep Nico (keep ears open for a good trade throughout the season) & sign A.J. Price. PS @ the 5 we should sign Anthony Tolliver (& of course re-sign Joel ;), he's a big that can stretch the D (not an exceptional player but good enough & can hold his own v. a lot of teams/bigs in this league); VERY funny & good personality guy that would b great for Blazer's chemistry on/off court :)

    by Simpson on 7/12/2012 9:12 AM
  9. @Simpson: It is too bad about Collison, but it is true without Kidd, Dallas needs a starting PG; speaking of which, I think Lillard will be our starting PG and he doesn't actually need tutoring. But, we need a veteran presence as a back up for depth. I am not sure what PG are left. I wouldn't mind Patty Mills as he is a fun player. I wouldn't mind Jonny Flynn or Calderon although he doesn't play good D.
    I don't agree with you on Anthony Golliver,

    Time will tell.

    by Hg on 7/12/2012 9:18 AM
  10. @ Hg, woops I 4got about Calderon. Hahaha! Let me bak up a bit then. All of what I said above BUT Calderon is my 1st choice & THEN all of what I said above ;)
    IF Tolliver joins the team Hg, ur gonna like him :)

    by Simpson on 7/12/2012 9:34 AM
  11. @Simpson? Tolliver played for us once on a 10 day contract right? He didn't play so good for us then.

    by Hg on 7/12/2012 10:09 AM
  12. @ Hg, that was then; now he's got some experience & isn't a new guy to the league. He's much different v. during the 10 day contract (I remember that stint even as I wrote those words above; I'd actually called for the signing of Tolliver in much earlier comments too ;)

    by Simpson on 7/12/2012 10:53 AM
  13. @Simpson:
    OK I will back off, I have a tendancy to not updating my thinking. If he has improved and can play better, I would be glad to support him.

    by Hg on 7/12/2012 11:38 AM
  14. @ Hg, hahaha! No worries sir ;) He's a good guy :) IF we sign him, I'll let him/his play speak for him/itself ;)

    by Simpson on 7/12/2012 12:13 PM
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