Brandon Roy, anybody? Batum to follow? Three questions in one title for an article?

Zach Harper —  July 5, 2012 — 7 Comments

Jason Quick of The Oregonian tweeted that Brandon Roy has come to a decision regarding his comeback.

It has since been confirmed by a lot of reporters and the figures are out. Brandon Roy is signing with the Timberwolves for two years and $10.4 million. It sounds like a lot for a player who recently retired due to his knees being unfit for court time, and possibly it is. Personally, I don’t think you can have bad contracts if they’re two years or shorter. Two year deals are a risk worth taking because the reward for a player like Roy regaining even 75% of his form for half of the time he was used to playing per game is immense. 

If you don’ think Brandon Roy is capable of playing basketball anymore, I don’t blame you. It’s fairly common knowledge by now that Roy essentially is playing bone-on-bone with his knee joints. As someone with bad cartilage in one knee, I can assure you even walking down hill can be an excruciating process. I can’t even imagine what it must be like if there isn’t any cartilage in there at all. He’s been seeking treatment and second opinons on his knees recently and feels he has enough information and confidence to make this comeback.

At the same time, it feels almost masochistic in many ways to root for his comeback. Part of me is happy because the Wolves need quality wing players (BREAKING) and Brandon Roy, if healthy, is certainly a quality wing player. At the same, the other part of me feels like an accomplice to a crime if Roy ends up not being able to walk in a couple of years. I know it’s not up to any of us and only up to Brandon and his family, but things could get even worse than we thought they were a year ago. If that happens, is it worth it to have him on the team? Is it a scary moment each time he falls on the court? If he’s able to come back and be productive and relatively healthy, is it the type of inspiration you only hope to find in all of the fantastic Disney movies (company man!)?

As much as I want to worry about Roy, you have to trust that he knows what he’s doing with his body. You don’t expect him to be an expert on the biology behind it all, but you do expect him to have talked to enough specialists to know just how much risk and just how much reward are likely. If he’s healthy, he brings a legitimate wing player for roughly 20 minutes per night. He’s a playmaker that can score, set up others and take care of the ball. He’s a player that will probably be torched on defense and it’s unrealistic to concern yourself with that aspect of his game. He won’t be a grind-it-out type of weapon. He’ll be a selective tool at the disposal of Rick Adelman to get the job done.

Couper Moorhead tweeted, “Seems like the best course of action regarding Roy is to have absolutely no expectations whatsoever.”

I couldn’t agree more. I think the best you can do as Wolves fans, or just Roy fans in general, is to hope he’s healthy and expect next to nothing from him. Anything beyond that is gravy. And perhaps he’ll have a familiar face to help him out.

Jon Krawczynski of the Associated Press tweeted that the Wolves and Nicolas Batum have agreed on an offer sheet of four years, $45 million with bonuses that can have it surpass $50 million. This news comes after Batum spent time in Portland with the front office and Neil Olshey telling Nic that it’s in his best interest to be with the Blazers. He even threatened the Blazers will match any offer sheet Batum might sign and were not willing to work out a sign-and-trade with a hopeful team.

So the Wolves have decided to call Portland’s bluff. The Blazers are flush with cap space and matching Batum’s offer sheet will not hurt them in the short-term or the long-term in the slightest. They just have to figure out if they believe they can make Batum love being in Portland when he’s professing just how much he wants to play with Ricky Rubio and in Rick Adelman’s system. During the season, I had conversations with scouts and various people around the league that expressed just how much players were falling in love with Rubio’s style of play and how they’d flock to Minnesota if given the chance. Names like Luol Deng, Kevin Martin, and Nicolas Batum were tossed around in the conversations, but you just assume that’s an exaggeration when talking amongst hoopheads.

Apparently, the assessment was valid, as Nic Batum has proven it with the first chance to join up with Ricky. Personally, I wouldn’t get too excited about Batum joining because it’s really hard to believe Portland won’t match the offer sheet. It’s reasonable enough to not really have to think about it. But what could be encouraging in terms of long-term gain for the Wolves is that wing players have already started jumping at the chance of playing for the Wolves with Rubio here. That’s with the knowledge that Rubio is trying to come back from a knee injury of his own.

Imagine if he proves to be healthy by the end of next season? Even if Batum doesn’t come now, are the floodgates starting to open toward the Wolves roster because of a pass-first-and-second point guard that finds his way into people’s hearts?

Regardless, we have to wait until July 11th for things to officially be signed and then the Blazers have three days to match or let Batum go. If they let him walk, the Wolves will have exactly what they hoped to get from Wes Johnson — a lanky small forward who can spread the floor and play harassing defense. It would also mean Darko will most likely have to be amnestied to make the money work. If Portland matches, the Wolves at least get to find out what Brandon Roy has in the tank and then move on to rounding out the roster. Greg Stiemsma and Anthony Tolliver will be in play. And the Wolves will have to still figure out bringing in one more wing player.

Zach Harper

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7 responses to Brandon Roy, anybody? Batum to follow? Three questions in one title for an article?

  1. It seems fine, it seems unlikely this will pay any more dividends than David Kahn’s other attempts to go outlet shopping (Darko, Beasley, Webster) but those other attempts also didn’t cost much or do much harm, and this strikes me as being the same. Realistically short of a medical miracle (Zach Lowe had a very good article on si.com explaining how Roy has the wrong kind of injury for PRP treatment) the ceiling on this comeback is probably post-Rockets T-Mac, which would be sufficient returns on the investment. Just so people realize that Michael Jackson is more likely to rise from the dead than for Brandon Roy to revert to 2009 form. The human body is what it is.

    The attempted Batum pickup frankly is a head-scratcher to me. Why did they trade for Budinger if they planned to bid on Batum who is basically a slightly richer man’s Budinger at (what will be) 13 times the salary? Also really, Martell Webster 2.0 for a team that still has Martell Webster 1.0? Does a team that has the aforementioned Webster 1.0 and Budinger plus Wes Johnson (Martell Webster 1.1 beta) really need to target an athletic small forward who is ostensibly a good three-point shooter but has no midrange game and a shaky handle and thus is unsuited to play off guard? You know what they say about if you have two quarterbacks, you don’t have a quarterback … well if you have five small forwards you don’t have a small forward. Or a shooting guard, notwithstanding Kahn’s odd conviction that if you collect enough of the same type of player who isn’t a shooting guard but kind of looks like one, you’ll get one eventually.

  2. Batum is a young stud that will be very good with big minutes. I’ve wanted him for two years now. Plus he’s a very good wing defender (sorely lacking), that will only get better in every facet. Huge STUD.

    Too bad I can’t imagine Portland doesn’t match it…

  3. According to Hollinger advanced stats show that Batum is actually a really bad defender. “Synergy rated him the second-worst small forward, and the Blazers gave up 4.19 points per 100 possessions more with Batum on the court. Watching him, he never stood out as being awful, but I can’t recall a single impactful defensive performance either.”

    Notwithstanding which, I agree Batum is a nice player, even if $50M is a bit dear. But he is a slightly better version of a bunch of guys the Wolves already have, and I find Kahn’s approach a bit too incremental at times.

  4. Mac, Batum is a good and yet inconsistent defender. If you want to look for impactful defensive performances, a good start is watch any game he defended Tyreke Evans. Reke is not a great player but he’s a really incredible one-on-one guy. Batum eats him alive every time they play and it’s never close.

    Batum’s problem is with help defense. He’s not a great help defender and you can take him into the post. In isolation? He’s a monster. Only gave up 0.69 points per possession last year, which was good for 75th in the NBA. Opposing players shot just 35% against him in those situations. Portland was an awful defensive team last season so they were bad whether he was on the court or off it. He always took the best scorer on the other team, and had very little help from his teammates. It doesn’t absolve him from giving up points in other situations, but it makes sense when you look deeper into the numbers.

    As for offensively, he was one of the most efficient scorers in the league last year, according to points per possession. He ranked 27th in all of basketball. He was 3rd in cutting to the basket, and with Ricky on board, it’s probable that his numbers go up (an insane 1.55 PPP on cuts and shot 75%).

  5. I don’t think there is any way we can expect Roy to be a starting shooting guard, given his knees. Or at least, we can’t expect him to play regular starter minutes. If we want Roy to finish the season, we are probably going to need to limit him to 20 minutes a game, and even that might be too much for him.

    I expect that Batum (if Portland doesn’t match) will be the starting shooting guard and Derrick Williams the starting small forward. Assuming he is on the team. Hollinger reports that the Wolves offered Williams to the Blazers in a sign and trade for Batum. I think this is too much to offer for Batum, who is a good player but not a star, even at the risk of losing Batum. Ridnour may be a more reasonable offer, and the Blazers need a starting point guard to mentor Lillard. I like Ridnour (especially since Rubio probably will not start the season and may be limited in minutes for a few months after coming back), but I’d give him up for a guarantee of Batum.

    Hollinger also reports that we may in fact need to get rid of Ridnour (or Williams or someone with a similar salary) to clear enough cap room to get both Batum and Roy. I’m sure Hollinger knows what he’s talking about (and trust him more than I trust Kahn), but if the Wolves sign Batum first, couldn’t they use their midlevel on Roy?

  6. I have no idea if anybody will read this comment. But in Ric Bucher’s recent article (“Sources: Teams in grudge match”) about the conflict between Portland and Minnesota over Nic Batum, he wrote the following:

    “Roy retired before last season because of degenerative knees. The Blazers still owed him $49 million over three years at the time, but an insurance policy was expected to cover a significant chunk of that. If he returns to play, however, that policy no longer can be invoked and the Blazers are back on the hook for what they owe him, minus the $10 million Minnesota will pay him, sources say. The balance due from the Blazers could be as much as $17 million, one source said.”

    Since the amount that Minnesota is paying Brandon Roy is subtracted from what Portland will be paying him, couldn’t the Timberwolves have just signed him for a lot less, perhaps the minimum? Roy would be making the same amount of money either which way.

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