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Wolves signing Batum to offer sheet, waive Darko

  • Blog Post by: Jerry Zgoda
  • July 12, 2012 - 1:59 PM

Two days after the NBA free-agency signing period began, the Wolves are signing Nicolas Batum to that big offer sheet today and when done, Portland will have three days to match.

Wolves owner Glen Taylor said the team will submit the signed $46.5 million offer sheet to the NBA  by the end of business today, a distinction that gives the Blazers one last chance to agree to a sign-and-trade.

The Wolves are willing to offer draft picks, but aren't giving up Derrick Williams or Nikola Pekovic.

Taylor said he believes the Blazers have seen the offer sheet. "You call their bluff," he said.

Once submitted, you can bet two things: The Blazers will match and they'll take probably nearly all 72 hours to do it.

This negotiation hasn't yet ended in compromise and a sign-and-trade agreement, so the Wolves are following through with their threat of overpaying a young player whose big contract now almost certainly will go on the Blazers' books.

If the Blazers weren't willing to take a draft pick or picks and Kyle Korver, you know they're not willing to give up Batum for nothing now.

The offer sheet does include some bonuses above the $46.5 million, such as All Star Game appearances, etc.

Once Batum signs the offer sheet, the option for a sign-and-trade is gone.

To make salary-cap room, the Wolves did waive Darko Milicic, ending the Manna from Heaven era by agreeing to pay him $7 million of the remaining $10 million-plus left for the last two years on the contract he signed in July 2010.

Expect buyouts on Martell Webster and Brad Miller for the remaining year on each contract to come as well

Darko's agent, Marc Cornstein, said the move with his client "certainly didn't come out of left field" and he said Darko still wants to play in the NBA.

The Wolves will use their one-time amnesty provision on Milicic, which means that $5 million-plus salary will come off their books this next season.

He now goes on the amnesty waiver wire for 48 hours.

So what do the Wolves do now when the Blazers match the Batum offer sheet?

Taylor said the first priority isn't necessarily a wing playe but  "We've got to get some big guys."

They've been pursuing Boston restricted free-agent center Greg Stiemsma and Lakers power forward Jordan Hill and it now looks like those bigs will be the priority over a wing.

As for those wings, their best options are, in this order:

1. Courtney Lee

2. O.J. Mayo

3. Andre Iguodala

Lee makes sense for multiple reasons: Like Mayo, he's an unrestricted but he'll likely come at least a couple of million dollars cheaper. He also has a mutual admiration thing going with Rick Adelman, for whom he played in Houston.

Expect Phoenix to throw money at Mayo after New Orleans matches the Suns' offer sheet for Eric Gordon.

Wolves Nation would do a collective handstand over Iguodala, but the Wolves would have to swallow real hard to accept his $15 million contract for the next two seasons and give up the assets needed to get him, although they probably wouldn't have to give up as much as you might think.

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