The Portland Trail Blazers announced on Monday that they have extended a qualifying offer to Nicolas Batum, the French forward, effectively making him a restricted free agent beginning July 1.
CBS News reports that the Blazers did not issue the extension before the January deadline, because they were working through a roster logjam at his position. They did end up moving Gerald Wallace at the trade deadline, which allowed the 23-year-old forward to play in a starting role for the rest of the season.
KPTV reports that the qualifying offer will allow the Blazers to match any offer Batum receives from another team.
CBS News reports that, when Batum’s agent, Bouna Ndiaye, hear a comparison made between Nicolas Batum and teammate LaMarcus Aldridge to the Los Angeles Clippers’ All-Stars Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, calling them a “bedrock” of the future, Ndiaye stated:
“I like that. Give me Chris Paul money and we will not be fighting too long. Just close your eyes and choose between Chris Paul and Blake Griffin and I’ll be fine with that. Give me one of those contracts and you’ll have a deal.”
The Portland Trail Blazers have made it no secret in the past few months that they intend to keep the French forward, both before and after hiring their new GM Neil Olshey. Despite their hopes to keep him on, contract negotiations have been difficult, with Batum’s agent publicly expressing his dissatisfaction at the team’s “lowball” offer in January.
While CBS News reports that Batum does not reach the level inhabited by Paul and Griffin, CBS ranked him in the top 10 for the top 40 free agents, meaning he will most likely receive an offer in the range of 4 years and $35-40 million dollars.