When it comes to 2012 free agents, few light up the eyes of Sacramento King fans more than that of the Portland Trailblazers’ Nicolas Batum. The 23 year old Frenchmen enters his first year of free agency in a restricted format, meaning the Blazers have every right to match any potential offer he receives, but given the strained relationship between the two parties, Batum’s agent is certainly going to test their hand:
According to the agent for Portland Trail Blazers forward, Nicolas Batum, they will not be holding off on deals to allow the Trail Blazers to sign a couple of free agents before the team tends to his client, who’s a restricted free agent.
The first good offer we get, we’re going with that,” Bouna Ndiaye of Comsport Management told CSNNW.com. “We’re not waiting for anything.”
Earlier in the season, Batum’s agent stressed that they would not give the Blazers first crack at their young forward after the two sides failed at an extension earlier this season:
“We’re still not talking and we’re not willing to accept the offer the Blazers have proposed. The game is about to start and we haven’t heard anything. We will not accept the offer that is out there.” It was also first reported by CSNNW.com that the two sides were very far apart and that, according to a source, Ndiaye believed that the Trail Blazers were low-balling his agent based on their first proposal.
The Blazers, who had until 9 p.m to extend Batum’s contract, will now see Batum become an unrestricted free-agent on July 1. Batum’s agent, who seemed upset, also had this to say about the Trail Blazers front office, “When Batum becomes a restricted free agent, we’ll look at the other 29 teams before we talk to the Blazers,” Batum’s agent Bouna Ndiaye told CSNNW.com. “The Blazers had their chance.”
With so much to come before the free agent bonanza begins (draft, etc), it’s hard to predict what needs the Kings will have going into free agency but obviously, small forward is a current situation of need.
It’s doubtful that the Maloofs will spend any more money then they need this off-season, sad as that is to say, but King fans can certainly hope (pray?) that they’ll give Batum an offer he can’t refuse, forcing the Blazers to either match or let the young talent walk away.