By DWIGHT JAYNES (@dwightjaynes)
It was originally expected that there would be a resolution to the Nic Batum question by late tonight, since the Minnesota Timberwolves are currently holding a signed offer sheet, which Batum signed Thursday.
But there are still negotiations going on and a league source says those talks could spill over into Friday. Minnesota may choose not to turn the signed offer sheet into the league until then, keeping negotiations alive for a sign-and-trade.
There were a couple of new twists that may have made it a more difficult offer sheet for the Trail Blazers to swallow. For one thing, the T-Wolves have apparently sweetened their offer to include a player or players not previously a part of the talks.
But more important, another new development is that the contract offer sheet Batum has signed apparently contains a 15 percent trade kicker. In other words, if the team that ends up with him wishes to trade him, it is going to have to pay him a costly 15 percent penalty to do so.
That would seem to make the offer sheet more difficult for the Trail Blazers, on a quest for roster flexibility, to accept. And make no mistake, the Blazers are facing a difficult decision.
Minnesota is not backing away from the offer. One insider told me Thursday night, "This thing is going to end in a sign-and-trade or an offer sheet. Period. Minnesota is not bluffing."
As we've said before, if it ends in an offer sheet, Portland would be left with little choice but to match the offer -- having already passed up chances for players or draft choices in return for Batum. If you don't match, you've let him go for nothing and look foolish for passing up a chance for an exchange of value.