Rick Bowmer, Associated Press
WOLVES FREE AGENCY
Roy's coming to Wolves; will Batum be able to join him?
- Article by: JERRY ZGODA
- Star Tribune
- July 6, 2012 - 11:02 AM
One day after the Wild made the Fourth of July even more festive in Minnesota, the Timberwolves made moves of their own Thursday, when they brought Brandon Roy back to the franchise six years after they drafted him and also reached agreement with Portland restricted free-agent Nicolas Batum on a rich offer sheet.
The team that traded away Roy on draft night in 2006 for Randy Foye and cash has agreed with the three-time All-Star on a two-year contract worth more than $5 million a season, a league source said.
The Wolves also reached agreement with Batum on a four-year, $45 million offer sheet that could be worth more than $50 million if bonuses are reached.
Trail Blazers officials met with Batum and his agent Thursday afternoon in Portland and told him they will match any offer he receives and won't sign and trade him to another team, even though his agent later said Batum wants to play for the Wolves and not the Blazers. His "heart went to Minneapolis" during a three-day Minnesota visit this week, the agent said.
Roy, 27, chose the Wolves over Chicago, Dallas, Golden State, Indiana and Cleveland to begin a comeback after an eight-month retirement brought on by two bad knees.
Wolves owner Glen Taylor, president of basketball operations David Kahn, coach Rick Adelman and the team's athletic trainer traveled to Seattle last week to meet with Roy.
He likely will be used in a measured role -- probably 20 minutes a night or so, but a good bit of those at the end of games -- off the bench because of those degenerative knees, which have no cartilage left in them.
The contract also is expected to include protection for the Wolves in case Roy's knees won't allow him to fulfill those two years.
Roy has undergone the same plasma therapy that gave Laker star Kobe Bryant's hurting knees relief since the Blazers gained salary-cap relief by releasing Roy and paying off $63 million last December under the NBA's new labor agreement amnesty clause.
The therapy won't repair his knees, but it can provide pain relief.
The Wolves have wooed France's Batum, 23, because they believe he is the kind of defender, three-point shooter and athlete they lack -- think what Tayshaun Prince was to the Detroit Pistons last decade -- and because of how he might thrive playing with point guard Ricky Rubio.
Batum and his agent met with the Blazers on Thursday in Portland to tell them he wants to play in Minnesota. The Blazers had a message of their own to deliver: He's not leaving, even if the Wolves sign him to an offer sheet worth as much as $50 million over four years.
"We told Nic it is in his best interests to sign with us," new Blazers General Manager Neil Olshey told the Oregonian newspaper, adding that it was "constructive" to get the franchise's point across in a face-to-face meeting.
The Wolves could offer the Blazers players and/or draft picks for a sign-and-trade agreement, but the Blazers, according to the Oregonian, sent three representatives into the meeting and told Batum they never will do that.
The Blazers have reached agreement with Indiana restricted free-agent center Roy Hibbert on a maximum four-year, $58 million deal that the two parties can sign Wednesday, but kajillionaire owner Paul Allen appears committed to paying both Batum and Hibbert if the Pacers match the Wolves' offer.
The Blazers can surpass the NBA's salary cap if they sign Batum after they sign Hibbert because they are allowed to do so if they re-sign one of their own players.
They acquired Batum in a trade with Houston on draft night 2008 after the Rockets took him 25th overall.
No players can sign offer sheets or be traded until Wednesday. If Batum indeed signs with Minnesota that day, the Blazers have three days -- until July 14 --to match.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.
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