ChrisHaynes, CSNNW.com Trail Blazers Insider (@ChrisBHaynes)
Hismind is not there in Portland. Out of that meeting with the Blazers(on Thursday), we hoped they would allow him to live his dream. Thebest case scenario is a sign-and-trade and we understand that.
"Hopefully, Paul Allen would never stand in the way of his dream toplay for the Timberwolves, is what Nicolas Batum's agent, BounaNdiaye, told CSNNW.com Saturday evening.
Batum -- a restricted free agent --and his agent met with Trail Blazers general manger Neil Olshey,director of college scouting Chad Buchanan, and capologist Joe Croninon Thursday in an attempt to convince the organization to set himfree after they had a pleasant Minnesota visit.
TheTrail Blazers were unaware Batum was flying in and that was the planin fear the Trail Blazers wouldn't grant the visit knowing what hewould ask for. Batum wanted to relay the message in person of hisdesires to play for the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Accordingto Ndiaye, Batum felt like he had an obligation to meet with them inperson out of respect, to let them know what he was thinking.
However, during their meeting, Olshey informed Batum they would match whatever offer sheet they signed and that they would not participate in a sign-and-trade.
Generally,the meeting with the Blazers was nice and cordial. We started themeeting talking about his four years there, Ndiaye said. Nicexpressed to them that after his first year, (Nate) McMillan said hewas surprised that Nic had an offensive game. The second yearwas great. After Andre (Miller) left, it was really tough forhim in year three. He wasn't able to get up and down and his role wasstaying in corner. He wasn't allowed to play his game. Being a BruceBowen in-the-corner player frustrated him. He wants to be him. Hewants to play his game.
He'sa player that likes to move around and that's what he likes aboutMinnesota. Requesting a sign-and-trade was part of it, but not all ofit. He went there to tell them there's no hard feelings, I don't hateyou, but my heart isn't there. That's what he told them.
Ndiayesays Batum is enamored with the opportunity of possibly playing witha true point guard in Ricky Rubio and a All-Star player in KevinLove. They had dinner with Rick Adelman in which he went over hiscoaching philosophy and style. At that point, Batum was hooked,according to Ndiaye.
Anotherperk is that Minnesota has a direct flight to Paris that is roughly aseven hour flight.
Beforethe free agency period began, Ndiaye said they had four teams circledas potential suitors: Toronto, New Orleans, Minnesota, and SanAntonio.
SanAntonio and Ndiaye had discussions, but wasn't able to come up with aplan that would land the small forward along side his buddy TonyParker. Batum was intrigued by New Orleans due to his relationshipwith head coach Monty Williams and Toronto seem to have made sense.
Inthe meantime, Ndiaye is hoping the Trail Blazers agree to asign-and-trade or hopes they won't match Minnesota's offer.
Manyhave questioned Ndiaye's tactics in the handling of his client andsome wondered if Ndiaye had his own personal agenda that didn'treflect his client's wishes.
Ndiayesays he and Batum are always on the same page.
EverythingI do is based on Batum's desires, Ndiaye said. There's no agentout there that's pushing his client to go a place they don't want togo. My job is to listen to the desires of Nic and try to get it done.I have to listen to my client's desires and that's what I'm doing.
Ndiayereiterates that Batum's decision to play in Minnesota is not a knockon the city of Portland. He says Batum loves the city and the fans,but it's time to move on.
Nicappreciates the fans and he loves it there. That's where he got hisstart. It's nothing personal, he just wants to be in Minnesota, Ndiaye said.
Batum reached an agreement in principle with the Timberwolvesand will sign a four-year, 45 million offer sheet come July 11.