The NBA has always looked at European players with such intrigue. It’s been easy to get carried away with sixteen year olds that play in overseas men’s professional leagues against aging stars. Scouts don’t care to worry if players doesn’t play well or get any run. It has always been about how young he is and how much potential he has.
It’s been hit miss with when a team brings over a kid from Europe. On one hand there is the all-star Tony Parker of the San Antonio Spurs and on the other there is the non-career of Frederic Weis. The New York Knicks thought so much of him that he was selected ahead of Metta World Peace, see Ron Artest. Weis never put a Knicks uniform on but will always be known as the guy Vince Carter jumped over.
The Portland Trail Blazers have done well overseas and they hoped to do the same when the traded for the rights to Nicolas Batum. Batum was a stud of a player from France. He came over and instantly made an impact starting in only his fourth game. Five years later he is still in the league and still with the same team. An oddity for any player let alone a Euro player. The issue with Batum is his salary. He is the second highest paid player on the Blazers and he doesn’t deserve it.
Batum has career averages of eleven points per game. His rebounds and assists are negligible. He has had some breakout games but hasn’t been consistent enough to make a real difference. The Blazers haven’t won with him. He has become a complimentary player. Yes he can defend with his athletic ability and his quickness but at most he should be the fourth or fifth player you name on your starting lineup.
For some reason this summer, the Minnesota Timberwolves reportedly signed Batum to an offer sheet reportedly worth $46 million over four years. The Blazers had just lost out on the Roy Hibbert sweepstakes and had to match the offer. This means Batum will now earn an average of $11 million until the end of the 2016 season.
He isn’t worth that much. This season he is averaging 15 points, six rebounds and five assists. He is arguably the fifth best player on the Blazers behind LaMarcus Aldridge, Damian Lillard, Wesley Matthews and the newly acquired J.J. Hickson. The Wolves offer was shocking. They knew they were pushing the Blazers into a corner by gulping up cap space for the next four years. Batum is young but how long can we be talking about is potential. At 25 most NBA players have shown what they are capable of producing or at least fulfill some of there so called reputation.
Batum is one of those players that can dominate one night and not be found the next. He has skills, athletic ability, can jump out of the gym and is 6 foot 8. You can’t teach height but you can teach desire and drive. Those are characteristics that Batum doesn’t have. Those are characteristics that a lot of European players never possess.
Batum doesn’t deserve the money he’s getting. He is overpaid. The Blazers should have never matched the Wolves offer. The Wolves would have had to sign Batum and might have had to trade Kevin Love earlier than they wanted. The Toronto Raptors went through the same issue when they wanted to sign Steve Nash. They submitted a huge offer sheet for Landry Fields to force the New York Knicks hands to match. The Knicks didn’t match, they didn’t get Nash either but they forced the Raptors to take Fields at too high of a price.
Batum will never be recognized just for his play. He will always be discussed with this contract first. He will never live up to the money he gets. Batum will be an average player on an average team making way above average money.
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