As the saying goes, ‘Don’t count your chickens before they are hatched,” which means don’t assume you will get something until you actually have it. My use of this proverb is not in reference to the acquisition of Nicolas Batum but rather all the other pieces that are in danger of being lost if the Frenchmen does not become a wolf. Currently the signed offer sheet by Batum has not been submitted to the league office meaning Portland cannot match it nor can the Wolves’ cap space be properly assessed. All signs point to the offer being matched by Portland no matter when the league receives it which begs the question, why is so much time being wasted?
The Wolves have taken multiple strategies in hopes of the Trailblazers finally relinquishing their death grip on their small forward. Jerry Zgoda of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported earlier this week that a sign and trade proposal was made to the Blazers which included Kyle Korver and two first round picks for Batum. Portland responded to this proposal with minimal interest and no deal was made. Since then there has been a great delay on Batum’s signed offer being submitted to the league office which may hint that the Wolves are exploring more sign and trade options with Portland. The problem is that the Wolves are expecting with the right ingredients Portland will alter its stance on Batum, even though they show no signs of abandoning their stubbornness. At this point the two teams appear to be more engaged in a game of chicken (to maintain the article’s theme) than a healthy set of negotiations.
The assumption by many is that Batum is simply a lost hope at this point. Multiple sources including Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News have come out and reported they do not believe a deal will be made at this point. Wolfson says, “Talks continue. But after discussions for days, hard to see things changing now.” He follows this statement with a comment even more worrisome for fans, “What’ll be unfortunate, even though (money) talks loudest, is if the #Twolves lose out on (Courtney) Lee because the Batum saga dragged on too long.” This scenario is exactly the reason the Wolves should refrain from putting all their eggs in Batum’s basket.
According to Wolfson, the Wolves have been in communication daily with Courtney Lee since July 1st. The financial incentives the Wolves can provide to Lee are much greater than competing teams such as the Celtics. Moreover, the Wolves are in need of a wing player able to provide solid defense something sorely lacking at the moment of which Lee seems to recognize. However, with each tick of the clock the chance to bring Lee on-board gets put at risk. Other options are certainly available in OJ Mayo and Andre Igoudala but they are both much more costly and not as familiar with Adelman’s system of which Lee previously played under.
In addition to Lee other free agents with possible ties to the Wolves could possibly be lost out to other teams. Greg Stiemsma has been rumored to be a possible replacement for the recently amnestied Darko Milicic. Jordan Hill has also been mentioned in this capacity. Zgoda said recently, “(Stiemsma) Agent re: on-hold discussions with Wolves: “He wants to play for Minnesota. Greg has a lot of patience.” Perhaps this comment is reason enough to believe Wolves have something to bank on but in the ever changing landscape of the NBA it’s important to remember that nothing is guaranteed.
The Wolves have made some fine moves this off season with Brandon Roy, Chase Budinger and Alexey Shved but in order to truly upgrade their roster more changes must be made. Players like Lee, Stiemsma and Hill may not match the overall talent of Batum but their additions greatly affect the collective talent of this team. For this reason, it is important that the Wolves begin securing these serviceable pieces in order to guarantee that the roster is improved by the start of training camp. With all hope we will start seeing eggs hatching in the next 24 hours.
For more NBA analysis and opinions check out Theon’s general NBA blog, THEONBA!