By: Aj Mansour | KFAN.com
Minneapolis, MN - The Timberwolves courtship of Nicolas Batum advanced another step Sunday night but is now at the mercy of yet another restrictive deadline. When Martell Webster officially cleared waivers at 4pm central on Sunday, the Timberwolves offer sheet that had been submitted to Nicolas Batum Friday afternoon became official. Batum quickly signed the four year, $46.5M offer sheet starting yet another clock on yet another deadline (this time three days) that the Portland Trail Blazers have to match the offer presented by the Timberwolves.
This situation is a perfect reflection on the silly nature of restricted free agency.
Even though Portland GM Neil Olshey has been saying all along that they had planned to match any deal that the Wolves might offer, David Kahn must see a ton of potential in Batum and has continued to fight for Portland's small forward. Now, Kahn has 72 hours remaining to mull over his thoughts and hope that the he has accurately called Portland's bluff.
As it stands today, any possibility of a sign-and-trade deal between the two teams is dead leaving the Timberwolves with only a handful of options that could play out between now and Wednesday's 11pm deadline.
Option One: Portland balks and Batum comes to Minnesota for four years and $46.5M...
There are even some who reside within the beautiful state of Minnesota (including yours truly) who think that $46.5 million is too much for a player of Batum's caliber. Fortunately or not, David Kahn is not one of those people. In a conference call Friday evening, Kahn was going as far as saying that Batum is "the missing piece" for what he is building in Minnesota.
"He's a dynamic wing player, capable of defending multiple positions," Kahn said. "His three-point shooting has improved every year; just a fine all-around basketball player. In certain ways, you could look at our team and say he's the missing piece."
Batum's 13.9 points and 4.6 rebounds per game are surely not worth this big contract, but Kahn and the Wolves see underlying potential in introducing Batum's game to the fast paced, Ricky Rubio brand of Minnesota basketball.
Option Two: Trail Blazers match Wolves four year, $46.5M offer sheet, Batum stays in Portland, Wolves look elsewhere...
There are conflicting reports out there when it comes to the possibility of this option coming to fruition. On one hand, Portland has said that they highly value Batum and would match any deal that the Wolves offer. On the flip side, when the Wolves officially offered Batum the four year, $46.5M deal, it was rumored that the Blazers scoffed at the idea of giving that kind of money to a player who is largely unproven.
If the Blazers do match the offer sheet, the Wolves will be forced to turn to their second options in acquiring free agent Courtney Lee and a potential trade with the 76ers that would land Andre Iguodala in Minnesota. Lee remains the most likely secondary option. He averaged 11 points for the Houston Rockets and is a +40% shooter from behind the arc. Lee lacks that potential upside that Batum might have but would be a serviceable replacement if Portland retains Batum's services.
Seeing that the Trail Blazers reportedly denied sign-and-trade options that included two (and maybe three) first round draft picks and players for Batum, one would have to say that the most likely scenario lands Batum in Portland for four more years. But up until yesterday's signing of Jerome Felton in New York, everyone thought (and NY GM Glen Grunwald had said) that the Knicks would match Jeremy Lin's offer sheet from Houston.
Strange things happen in the NBA and the Timberwolves are hoping that their free agency manhunt comes to an end on Wednesday with Batum in a Timberwolves jersey.
Aj Mansour covers Minnesota Sports for KFAN.com. Feel free to leave comments and questions regarding this post in the space provided below. For Timberwolves' updates and breaking Timberwolves' news, follow Aj on Twitter. @AjMansourKFAN