After much anticipation, it’s now official. The Wolves have submitted an offer sheet for Nicolas Batum, a four year deal worth $46.5 million, giving the Blazers three days to either match the deal or allow Batum to leave. The move caps off a week that featured much wrangling and even more ill-feeling between the two teams. Portland has vowed to match any offer that Batum receives–though, according to Ric Bucher, they don’t believe that he is worth what the Wolves are offering–and they have stonewalled any attempts at a sign-and-trade, despite the Wolves’ rather generous offers.
According to both Jerry Zgoda at the Strib and Bucher at ESPN, the mutual stink-eye has many antecedents: the Wolves’ attempt to poach then-assistant GM Tom Penn away from the Blazers, which attempt, it turns out, was merely a play by Penn and Kevin Pritchard for more of Paul Allen’s money; the Wolves’ (rather lame) accusation that Portland concealed Martell Webster’s back injury before trading him to Minnesota two years ago; the Wolves’ signing of Brandon Roy, which will (via byzantine salary cap bylaws that I’m not going to explain) cost the Blazers $17 million.
Since some of these events occurred before David Kahn’s tenure as the Wolves’ VP of Basketball Ops, and since Allen is known to have a vindictive streak, Kahn can’t entirely be blamed for the Blazers’ unwillingness to be flexible. On the other hand, I’d refer you now to Kahn’s reputation for abrasiveness and high-handedness when dealing with other GM’s, the feeling that other teams’ front offices do not exactly relish dealing with the Wolves. One wonders if a savvier GM, one more skilled at the social nuances of negotiation, might not have gotten a deal done.