The Portland Trail Blazers made it pretty clear that Nicolas Batum is part of the future of their franchise, so it is not surprising they matched the Minnesota Timberwolves' four-year, $46.5 million offer sheet. The talented young forward will remain in Portland for now.
It is a smart move by the Blazers. Batum continues to mature and improve. He is only 23 and it is obvious that he has a bright future in the NBA.
The Portland roster has undergone so many changes and modifications over the last few years. If they want to be successful, they need to find a solid core and build on that. Nic Batum can be a part of that core. At the very least, he is a tradable asset and letting him go to Minnesota for nothing would have been a huge mistake.
For the T-Wolves, it is on to Plan B.
Minnesota general manager David Kahn is acting like he was prepared for Batum to return Portland.
"We are disappointed that Nicolas Batum will not be on our team and wish him the best in the future," Kahn said. "However, we were prepared for the possibility of this outcome and will move forward with our other plans."
He did not disclose what these other plans are but the Timberwolves have been mentioned in rumors with a handful of other players.
The best option on the list would be Houston Rockets guard Courtney Lee. Minnesota has been trying to find a player that can fill their need for outside shooting and Lee can do just that. They were also looking at Memphis Grizzlies guard O.J. Mayo, but the Dallas Mavericks scooped him up first. Lee is considered a better shooter than Mayo though, so the Timberwolves might be better off if they can land him.
Lee is thought to be the best free agent remaining by some, so he will have plenty of other teams looking at him and making offers. If I were the Timberwolves, I would not hesitate to pull the trigger. They need a lot of talent and they need it fast. All-Star forward Kevin Love has said that if the team did not improve quickly, he would be looking for a new one. Courtney Lee would be a strong piece for the Minnesota Timberwolves' puzzle.