Kings In Free Agency: Nicolas Batum Awaits Your Call

PORTLAND OR - OCTOBER 26: Nicolas Batum #88 dribbles the ball agaionst Hedo Tukgolu #19 of the Portland Trail Blazers of the Phoeninx Suns on October 26 2010 at the Rose Garden in Portland Oregon. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that by downloading and or using this photograph User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)

There are a couple things about Nicolas Batum that makes me think that his restricted free agency period will be a good one. First, he's the type of player who has fanatic fans around the league, not just in bleacher bums like us, but in front offices. All of the rumors that enter the conversation with Batum attached are tied to glowing reviews from GMs or scouts. The other thing about Batum is that Portland is completely discombobulated right now. They have a new GM (Neil Olshey) who pretty much has carte blanche to start from scratch. They don't have a coach. They have an owner who once fired a GM an hour before the draft. This is a weird team in a weird spot, and there's no guarantee that Olshey and Paul Allen will be willing to spend so much money on Batum.

Batum is the level of player that makes restricted free agency fairly dicey for his incumbent team. He's not a max player or anything, so there's legit opportunity for debate as to his deserved salary. He's like DeAndre Jordan, a little: the right team could talk themselves into dropping eight figures a year on him, and while it would hurt, they'd rationalize it. And, like Jordan, the incumbent could rationalize matching because, you know, we need him. (We see how that worked out for the Clippers, and heck Olshey!, last time.)

I think Batum's restricted free agency will actually be competitive. I can see Brook Lopez and Ryan Anderson quietly returning to their clubs on slightly grotesque deals; I don't see Portland being nimble enough to lock him up quietly, which could lead his agent to flirt with offers. The Kings have reportedly shown interest in the past (at the trade deadline), but surely wouldn't be the only team in play. Of course, also remember that the Maloofs are broke and may need to amnesty DeMarcus Cousins and trade Tyreke Evans for a second-round pick to afford a free agent like Batum.

As for fit on the court? I think Aykis said it best yesterday when he said that Batum is a perfect fit. Threes, D and a certain je ne sais quoi. Bring him on!

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