by Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes)
In what appears to be the inevitable, Brandon Roy has likely played his last game as a member of the Portland Trail Blazers.
The new amnesty clause, inserted in the new collective bargaining agreement, will allow a team to release one player during the duration of the deal and that players salary will not count against the teams luxury or salary cap. Roy is owed 15 million next season and thats a hefty penny to pay a reserve with bad knees.
Never fear, Nicolas Batum is here and he explains why he is more than capable of filling the void that could be left by Roy.
I can definitely play the shooting guard position on a permanent basis, Batum told CSNNW.com. Ive learned a lot from Brandon (Roy) and if he did play his last game as a Blazer, he has taught me so much on how to play the position that Im ready to take on that role if Coach Nate sees it fit.
Batum was the starting small forward for most of last season until the Blazers acquired Gerald Wallace in a trade. Soon after, Batum was demoted to the sixth man. If there is a shot of Batum cracking the starting five again, the attainable path might be through Wesley Matthews. At 6-8, with his length, he would be a nightmare for opposing two-guards to maneuver around.
Batum says that his French coach has worked tirelessly with him on coming off screens, pick-and-roll situations, and improving his ball handling skills so that hell be capable of playing both guard spots once he returns to the league.
Everything that Ive been working on will translate over to the NBA, Batum said. Its basketball. I wanted to make sure that when I came back to Portland, I would return a better all-around player than when I left. I think I did that.
Playing amongst his family and friends has been a blessing in disguise for Batum during the 149-day lockout. However, he sounds more than ready to return to the states and show of his new repertoire to the Blazers coaching staff.
I was like finally, when I heard the lockout was over, Batum said. I cant wait to get back to my teammates, coaches, and the city of Portland so we can pick up where we left off at.
Playing for his national team allowed Batum to be put in situations where hed have to make critical decisions in clutch moments and he said he would often think about what Roy would do in those situations.
Watching Roy over the years, I saw how calm he was in pivotal moments and for the most part, he always came through, Batum said. Thats another part of my game I was able to develop thanks to Roy and he was and always will be someone Ill look up to.
For the time being, Batum doesnt quite know when hell be leaving France as hes waiting for his visa to be cleared. What he does know is that the Blazers are prepared and equipped to go the distance with the talent thats already on board, especially if they get a particular big man back.
Greg Oden is the missing piece, Batum said. If we get him back, our team is complete and well be able to make a deep run in the playoffs. I hear hes making progress and Im excited for whats in store for us this season.