ChrisHaynes, CSNNW.com Trail Blazers Insider (@ChrisBHaynes)
Thenumber I'm hearing Portland Trail Blazers forward Nicolas Batum willcommand this offseason is 10-11 million per, according to a fewleague executives when Batum becomes a restricted free agent.
And,I'm being told by multiple sources that the San Antonio Spurs will make a hard push toattain the promising small forward.
Ifthat ever came into fruition, Batum, 23, would love to play for coachGregg Popovich and his structured system. Keep in mind that Batumthought he was going to be a Spur until the Houston Rockets took himat No. 25 in the 2008 NBA draft, to Batum's surprise.
Iwas shocked, Batum told CSNNW.com. I thought for sure I washeaded to San Antonio. I was talking with Tony (Parker) and the guysand then Houston drafts me out of nowhere. I never worked out forthem. They had T-Mac (Tracy McGrady) and (Shane) Battier at thattime, and I was confused. Then I was traded to Portland and I waslike 'okay, that's better'.
TonyParker is one of Batum's closest friends and teammate on the Frenchnational team and they've been playing together for years. On paper,Batum on the Spurs would be an ideal fit.
Batumsat out last night's 35-point loss to the Spurs nursing his sore leftknee, but took time afterwards to talk about how the Spurs handlebusiness and the uncertainty of his future in Portland.
TheSpurs play well together. They share the ball and do everything theright way, Batum said. I don't know what's going to happen withmy situation and I'm not worried about it right now. Everything willplay itself out.
TheTrail Blazers had a chance to extend Batum's deal at the Jan. 25deadline, however Batum's agent Bouna Ndiaye and Trail Blazers managementcouldn't come to terms on a deal.
Negotiationsgot so heated that it prompted this response from Batum's agent:"When Batum becomes arestricted free agent, we'll look at the other 29 teams before wetalk to the Blazers," Ndiaye told CSNNW.com. "The Blazershad their chance."
Backthen, Batum's agent was demanding less than what he'll seek for hisclient this time around. Also, those talks were before Batum wasinserted into the starting lineup and became easily the second bestplayer on the team.
TheTrail Blazers took a gamble, and it appears that Batum will come outon top when it's all said and done.
Nowthe question will be, are the Trail Blazers willing to spend thatmuch on Batum?
Theother question is, can the Trail Blazers afford not to spend thatmuch money on Batum?
Withthe way this season has played out, letting go of one of your mostlikable players can't be a good thing going forward.
Whatwould you do?