The Timberwolves appear to have hit their version of a free-agency jackpot after three-time NBA All-Star Brandon Roy and Portland forward Nicolas Batum said Thursday night, July 5, they intend to sign with the Timberwolves on July 11, when NBA teams are permitted to finalize contracts with free agents.
Roy, who retired before the 2011-12 season because of chronic knee problems, confirmed his decision to sign with the Wolves during an interview with Seattle radio station KJR. Seattle is Roy’s hometown.
“I’m excited to be back,” Roy told the station.
Roy, 27, is expected to sign a two-year deal worth a reported $10.4 million. He played his first five NBA seasons with Portland before knee problems led to six surgeries and
ultimately his retirement. Roy hasn’t played in an NBA game since Portland was eliminated by Dallas in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs on April 28, 2011.
After hearing the news, Wolves all-star forward Kevin Love posted “Brandon Roy. Welcome” on his twitter account @kevinlove.
Batum, a 6-foot-8 small forward who can also play shooting guard, was considered the primary free-agency target for the Wolves. His agent, Bouna Ndiaye, told the Associated Press that he and his client had reached a verbal agreement with the Wolves despite claims earlier Thursday from Portland general manager Neil Olshey, who said the Trail Blazers plan to match any offer Batum receives.
Batum, a restricted free agent, earned $2.155 million
last season but reportedly has agreed to a four-year offer sheet from the Wolves worth $45 million to $50 million. Portland will have three days to match the Wolves’ offer after Batum signs.
Ndiaye said Batum met with Blazers officials, including general manager Neil Olshey, on Thursday, according to the AP report.
“It was a very cordial meeting,” Ndiaye told the Associated Press on Thursday night. “There were no hard feelings. Nicolas talked about his four years with the Blazers, and he expressed that maybe it was time for him to look for a place where he could be more happy.”
Ndiyae added that Batum “has great respect for the Blazers and their fans,” the AP reported, but feels the best fit for him is playing in Minnesota under coach Rick Adelman and alongside point guard Ricky Rubio.
Batum, a four-year veteran from France, averaged 13.9 points and 4.6 rebounds per game and shot 45.1 percent from the floor last season.
Earlier Thursday, the Oregonian reported that Batum and Ndiaye met Thursday in Portland with Olshey and Chad Buchanan, the Trail Blazers’ salary cap expert. Olshey called the meeting “constructive.”
“We told Nic it’s in his best interest to sign with us,” Olshey told the Oregonian.
The Timberwolves are hoping to sign Batum to help fill a critical need at the small forward and shooting guard positions. Batum and Ndiaye visited Minnesota earlier in the week to meet with Timberwolves officials, including club president of basketball operations David Kahn. NBA rules prohibit Kahn from discussing another team’s free agent.
Roy underwent knee injections in Europe, a procedure known as platelet rich therapy, and now wants to resume playing. He averaged 19 points, 4.3 rebounds and 4.7 assists in 321 games. He was the No. 6 overall pick in the 2006 draft by the Timberwolves but was traded to Portland for Randy Foye on draft night.
The Timberwolves also were pursuing Portland free-agent shooting guard Jamal Crawford, but he signed a four-year deal Thursday with the Los Angeles Clippers worth a reported $21 million to $25 million.
Other free agents coveted by the Timberwolves include Los Angeles Lakers forward Jordan Hill and Boston Celtics center Greg Stiemsma.