The Blazers have a lot of work to do before the 2012-13 season tips off. The team has made one big off season play already by filling their General Manager position that stood vacant for well over a year. Now that new GM has an important announcement: he has made a qualifying offer to small forward franchise corner stone Nicolas Batum.
Per the team’s official press release:
The Portland Trail Blazers have extended a qualifying offer to forward Nicolas Batum, it was announced today by General Manager Neil Olshey.
Batum will become a restricted free agent on July 1, ensuring that the Trail Blazers will have right of first refusal should another team try to sign him. The move gives Portland the right to match any contract offer he will receive.
Clearly there will be more details made available at some later date. Hopefully that date will be when Nicolas signs the deal, and his status as a Blazer is made more solid for the longer term.
Prior to this qualifying offer, there has been much speculation as to what the Blazers should and would do with Nicolas.
Just to make things interesting, a month and a half ago, Nic’s agent issued an ultimatum stating that his client would be taking the first good offer that came his way, and would not play the waiting game for the purpose of helping the Blazers.
That threat may have been idle, as the team’s press release states the Blazers have the right of first refusal on any and every offer so Nicolas wasn’t and isn’t going to be able to jump at any offer, but it also could have forced Portland’s hand at least a little.
Nic is a big piece. More than that, he’s a known commodity. A significant portion of what the Blazers are going to be working with next season will be brand new, either to the league in the form of two lottery picks or as incoming free agents. If there’s a lesson to be learned from 11-12, and there is because there always is, it’s that it is probably better to know the players that you have before the season starts than to try and get to know your players as the season is unfolding/falling apart.
The ball is in Nic’s court now, which is probably where he and his agent wanted it. Portland got to the party early, they’ve established what it is they are willing to spend on Nic, and now he has to decide whether he takes to offer and makes good on what he’s said he wants to do (stay in Portland long term) or if he thinks there just might be something better for him out there in the wilds of free agency.
If it were me, I’d take the deal. A bird in the hand is better than two in the bush, as they say. Not to mention, the Blazers, and their new GM Neil Olshey are showing that the first piece of the puzzle that needs to be in place for a flawless off season and a major rebound season is Nicolas Batum.
Who’s going to turn that down?
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