On what seemed to be a dull, bare night on the Timberwolves’ front regarding free agency, took a full 180 and united a boisterous fan base with two awfully big moves.
It started off with the big news that Brandon Roy will be officially coming out of retirement to join the Wolves on a two year, $10 mil deal. It sounds like Kahn’s pitch worked out but it’s Roy and his agent’s pitch that leave me curious. Roy was forced into early retirement because his knees literally ground into dust. No one wants to play the game in pain, which left Roy with no choice. But just one year away from the game and an illegal medical procedure made famous by Kobe Bryant and Roy states he’s healthy enough to play in the NBA yet again.
Is it possible for a man with no cartilage in his knees to withstand the physicality and speed of the NBA? Even for someone with All-Star credentials such as Roy, I certainly have my doubts. Whatever he and his agent had to say in that meeting with Kahn, Taylor and other T-Wolves’ contingent, must’ve struck a nerve so deep to give assurance that he is fully capable of making this comeback worth his while, as well as the Wolves’.
For fans, this is a huge addition. Roy’s reputation alone brings great joy and hope for Wolves fans everywhere. The fact that they’re bringing in a former All-Star in through free agency gives the fan base subtle reassurance that David Kahn and the front office are doing everything they can to make winning now a plausible — if not guaranteed — situation in Minnesota. There are still other moves to make but the fact that they’re creating a solid base with players that seem to want to come here and play in Adelman’s system is certainly a positive.
Speaking of those other moves, the next big move tonight was the word of Nic Batum officially agreeing to sign an offer sheet from the Timberwolves. The details: a four-year deal worth $45 mil including bonuses that could amount to $50 mil. Woah. Batum is a simpleton but a great example of the Wolves’ determined efforts to find pieces that are going to fit on this team now and still have room to grow. He’s a lanky swingman with the ability to play the 2 or the 3. But more importantly is how he plays either position; he is a perimeter hawk with a smooth stroke and the ability to make plays for himself. Really, he’s the perfect kind of player to plop into Adelman’s corner-based offense and let run the sidelines in the open court alongside Rubio.
But it’s never gonna happen.
Earlier today, the Trail Blazers told the Oregonian that it’s within Batum’s “best interest” to stay in Portland, and that they’d match any offer that Batum decided to agree to. It didn’t take long for Batum to call up Minnesota and agree to their offer. But even with a wholehearted desire to play for the Timberwolves — How refreshing is it to hear someone say they want to play here? — it looks as if Batum won’t get his chance to play here. At least for four years.
Just because Batum has the desire to play in the Twin Cities, doesn’t mean that Portland is simply going to let him walk. Just like Eric Gordon and his passion to play for the Suns, there’s no way in hell the New Orleans Hornets are just going to let him go.
Because of Batum’s RFA — restricted free agent — status, Portland has the right to match any offer within three days of July 11th, the official “signing day” of NBA free agency. And because Batum is a very good and underrated 23-year old, Portland isn’t going to not match the Wolves’ offer.
It would be suicide.
The best chance the Wolves have at landing Batum now is via sign and trade. They would need to build some sort of package around D-Will and other pieces — Martell Webster/Brad Miller deals, draft picks, etc. — to have any hope of acquiring him. Again, reports say that Portland has already denied any such D-Will package. Williams plays the same position their star does — just like the Wolves — and so his value isn’t nearly as high on their list.
It’s going to take a little work and a whole lot of luck to bring Batum here to pair him with his former Blazer teammate, Roy. But the fact that the Wolves are attempting the impossible, and stirring up some bad blood with a fellow division rival, makes this entire situation awfully fun to cover. Even if it’s likely to end for worse, it’s still worth the debate.