Tag:Nicolas Batum
Posted on: July 30, 2011 7:10 pm
Edited on: July 30, 2011 7:11 pm

Report: Nicolas Batum signs with Nancy in France

Posted by Royce Young

I get the feeling with FIBA officially paving the way for NBA players under contract that more and more guys will decide to ink overseas contract just in case things don't go so well and all with the bargaining and such.

So add another name to the list: Nicolas Batum.

According to BasketSession.com, Batum has signed with SLUC Nancy in France. Batum of course if originally from France and currently is under contract with the Blazers. Here's a rough translation, via Blazers Egde:
According to a source familiar with the matter, Nicolas Batum signed with SLUC Nancy. The winger Portland Trail Blazers and the team will begin the season in France Pro A and the Euroleague with Nancy in the case quite likely that the lockout blocks the start of the NBA season. We knew very advanced contacts between the two parties, but nothing was sure yet.
Batum is still on a rookie deal making "just" $2.16 million next season. Because of that Batum isn't risking as much as a free agent or a player with less guaranteed money. And with him being just 22 years old, he's still got a really bright future ahead in the NBA. Which is a pretty good reason why he wouldn't want to just sit on his hands and wait for a resolution. Young guys like him want to play.

He'll get a little of that as he's playing for France in Eurobasket in September, but now it sounds like he's at least got plans ahead of that.

Batum is definitely a major part of Portland's future roster so I'm sure Paul Allen and Nate McMillan are cringing just a bit at this news. At the same time though, you want your young guys to develop and playing against top competition in Europe will afford him that opportunity. Injury is always the big risk factor and I'm sure that'll be on every Blazer fans' mind while Batum is in France, but it's the line you walk.
Posted on: June 23, 2011 12:10 am
Edited on: June 23, 2011 11:22 am

NBA Trade Rumor: Spurs G Tony Parker to Blazers?

The San Antonio Spurs and Portland Trail Blazers are reportedly discussing a trade involving All-Star guard Tony Parker. Posted by Ben Golliver. tony-parker

There continues to be billowing smoke around San Antonio Spurs All-Star guard Tony Parker. But is all the talk legit?

On Tuesday, we noted a report that Parker was being shopped to the Toronto Raptors and Sacramento Kings. Earlier Wednesday, we noted that the Spurs denied Parker was being shopped.

Just hours after that denial, though, HoopsWorld.com reported that the Spurs nearly consummated a trade with the Portland Trail Blazers involving Parker.
The San Antonio Spurs and Portland Trail Blazers nearly completed a blockbuster trade on Wednesday afternoon, but the deal fell apart in the late stages. San Antonio was prepared to ship Tony Parker and the #29 pick to Portland in exchange for Andre Miller, Nicolas Batum and the #21 pick, but the trade died when the Spurs insisted that Richard Jefferson somehow be included in the deal. Other players would have been included in the trade to make salaries work. Talks have quieted for now, but they could pick back up tomorrow if one of the teams has a change of heart.
CBSSports.com's Ken Berger then reported that the ongoing chatter is simply San Antonio attempting to gauge Parker's value on the open market.
Spurs officials continue to do what they're paid to do -- find out what their players are worth on the trade market. That's all the Tony Parker speculation is, several rival execs believe. "You know and I know they're not trading Tony Parker," one GM said. "You can't get anything close to equal value for him."
With Parker on the books for big money and George Hill waiting in the wings, the Spurs are smart to shop Parker. Usually, though, the rumor mill surrounding the Spurs is almost nonexistent. The franchise is known and praised for its secrecy and this week's worth of chatter is certainly out of the ordinary.

One thing is for sure: attempting to include Jefferson radically alters any Parker deal. He's owed roughly $30 million over the next three seasons. To match salaries, a team taking on Jefferson and Parker must be way under the salary cap or able to send out roughly $20 million in salaries that don't include long-term money. Not many teams fit that bill.
Posted on: February 9, 2011 5:39 pm
Edited on: February 9, 2011 5:57 pm

The rise of Derrick Rose

Taking a look at Chicago Bulls point guard Derrick Rose's offensive improvement and MVP candidacy. Posted by Ben Golliver.

The main storyline out of Portland's win over Chicago on Monday was that Blazers forward Nicolas Batum may or may not have called out Bulls point guard Derrick Rose's defense. This was a disappointing turn of events, for two reasons.

First: Because Rose is a committed, solid, by-the-book defender who doesn't regularly make spectacular plays but expends more energy on that end than most superstars that carry such a heavy burden on offense. Second: Because both Batum and NBA scouts left the Rose Garden on Monday night extremely impressed with Rose's offensive development, specifically the gameplan-altering work that Rose has put into his jumper. 

Rose's offensive development this season has been discussed a fair bit: his three-point shooting percentage is way up, boosting his overall eficiency and complementing his lethal first step to make him as difficult a one-on-one cover as there is in the NBA. Here's a look at his per-game numbers.

This season, Rose has taken more shots than ever (a career-high 20.1 attempts per game, up from 17.6 last season) and, not surprisingly, his overall field goal percentage has taken a hit (it sits at 44.7%, down from 48.9% last season). Coupled with his spike from deep (at 36.4%, improved from 26.7% last season), you won't be surprised to find out that HoopData.com's shot location data show big-time drop offs in Rose's mid-range shooting percentages.

If there was a message imparted by decision-makers on Monday, though, it was this: Don't let those numbers fool you into thinking there's been any type of regression in Rose's game. He's a better shooter today -- from everywhere on the floor -- than he's ever been, and he commands far more defensive attention in the mid-range than he did in previous seasons, when teams played the odds and dared him to shoot on a regular basis. 

So why are the numbers down? A few explanations. One, he's seeing lots of extra defensive attention and therefore taking way more contested jumpers. His usage rate is sky-high usage -- Rose is No. 2 in the league in usage rate, trailing only Kobe Bryant, but playing nearly five more minutes a game than he does -- and efficiency almost always tails off when you reach those upper bounds.

Looking at tape of the Portland game, it's easy to see the progress in Rose's shot and also admire the regularity with which Chicago's offense puts him in good position to beat teams in a variety of ways.

Early in the game, Chicago got Rose going immediately, running him off of two dribble hand-offs, both of which he promptly knocked down for open jumpers. Portland responded by strongly overplaying Rose, trying to keep the ball out of his hands as much as possible. Chicago adjusted right back, using a back screen to free Rose coming across the key. Take a look at this gorgeous mid-range floater that he confidently, almost non-chalantly, flips in over the seven-foot Joel Przybilla.

Rose simply couldn't miss from outside to open the game, so Portland began alternating defenders and switching all picks when Rose had the ball in his hands. This is a difficult proposition given how many pick-and-rolls Chicago runs, how effective Rose is in the pick-and-roll and how much Rose has improved his shot mechanics. Just minutes into the game and he was necessitating full-scale attention and adjustments. 

Even during the rare occasion when Chicago bogged down a bit on offense during the first half, Rose's jumper was there to save the day. Here, he realized that, with seven seconds left on the shot clock, he had to make something happen, so he used a screen to escape to the corner. The forced switch took place with Batum winding up on Rose as the shot clock crept below five. Batum, an elongated and not-quite-polished version of Shane Battier, is a tough guy to shoot over given his length, but Rose did what he does best: create space off the bounce. With a lightening quick dribble move, Rose finds his shooting window and rises up with excellent form, on-balance and able to hold the follow-through. That's a tough shot from just inside the three-point line, and it's one Portland is happy to have Rose settle for. But it's also one he buried to save the possession.

Later in the second quarter, we have a somewhat similar situation. Rose finds himself guarded by Batum and he again looks to use his quickness to his advantage. He gets Batum back on his heels, as Batum is thinking drive prevention and paint protection. Rose stops on a dime as few can, pulls back directly into his shot motion, and, with his shoulders square and his ability to follow through intact, he steps in at the free throw line and buries the contested jumper.  If you're nit-picking, you're not thrilled that he falls back a bit after the release but, given his body language, it appears he knew the shot was good as soon as he let it go. A high degree-of-difficulty shot made to look easy.

Later, in the third quarter, Rose uses a high pick-and-roll excellently, stringing out Portland's defense to create space for his big man to roll and to force the rest of Portland's defense to scramble behind him. After patiently surveying the scene, Rose pulls up, knowing Przybilla, who has switched on to him, won't be able to elevate quickly enough to contest his jumper. Again, the mechanics are very good: shoulders square, shooting motion pulled up in rhythm, follow through on point. 

The final one we'll look at combines Rose's speed on the ball, uncanny ability to find new angles as he's driving and solid shot mechanics again. The final product here is a bit more highlight-reel oriented, given the nasty crossover and the quickness of the pull-up, but again his shoulders are square, his follow through is there and his shooting motion is smooth and quick off the bounce. He's in rhythm once again and, given how close he is, the fallaway doesn't affect the ball's ability to get to the rim. Money once again.  

drose-shot-chart On the night, Rose was 14-27 for 36 points, but just 1-6 from deep. His shot chart shows just how often he went to the mid-range game and the success he had there. 

Afterwards, Batum summarized the state of improvement: ""I'm impressed by his jump shot. His first two years, if you guard D. Rose you just stand back and let him shoot it. Now he proves it a lot with his jump shots, makes it so difficult to guard him. Because now if you step back he makes everything, and going to the rim, he's too fast." 

Lest you think Rose was all jumpes in this game, don't overlook this absurd spin move or this vicious crossover for a dunk. Generally, in this type of situation, the next step would be to suggest the player continue to attack the basket and get to the free throw line to further improve his efficiency, but Rose has never had a problem getting to the rim and, as Basketball Prospectus noted today, has improved his ability to get to the free throw line recently. 

The only thing left, really, is to allow his mechanical improvements to continue to take hold. It's scary to imagine, one observer hypothesized, how good Rose can be as an offensive force if he improves as much during the next two summers as he did during this past summer. 

The scariest part: Rose has already closed the gap on the very upper echelong of efficient point guards. Here's a chart of the league's most efficient points and Rose's substantial improvement over the last three seasons.
Here's the relevant raw per-game numbers if you're interested as well.

After viewing all of that tape, Rose evokes a bit of Steve Nash, doesn't he? His ability to clear space, find a clean look, hit the off-balance shot as long as he's in rhythm, not to mention his ability to string out defenses and force big men to go places they don't want to go. Nash isn't a comparison that first comes to mind -- given how physically imposing and athletic Rose is -- but I think there are growing similarities there, particularly in their mastery of the nuances of the pick-and-roll chess match.

So where does all of this leave me on the key Rose questions: Is he the best point guard in the game and is he an MVP candidate? 

To the first question: I will copout and say he's the most important and most difficult to defend point guard in the game but I'll stop short of calling him the "best," given the year Chris Paul is having. However, if I had to pick one point guard to build a team around for the next 10 years, Rose would be the choice and it wouldn't be particularly close.

To the second question, I think he's on the outer fringes but not quite there yet. The occasional critical mental error and forced shot hold him back, at least for now. But given another summer or two to improve and/or another complementary perimeter scorer? There's nothing stopping him.
Posted on: February 5, 2011 10:03 pm
Edited on: February 6, 2011 12:14 am

Cavaliers set NBA record with 24th straight loss

The Cleveland Cavaliers lost to the Portland Trail Blazers on Saturday night, marking their 24th straight loss, setting a new NBAcavs-blazers record. Posted by Ben Golliver.

They played with fight, but the Cleveland Cavaliers lost anyway, setting a single-season NBA record by losing their 24th consecutive game on Saturday night, a 111-105 home loss to the Portland Trail Blazers. On Friday night, The Cavaliers tied that record with a 112-105 road loss to the Memphis Grizzlies.

The Cavaliers surpassed the Vancouver Grizzlies -- who lost 23 straight games in the 1995-1996 season -- and tied the all-time record for consecutive losses overall, set by the Cavaliers during the 1981-1982 and 1982-1983 seasons. Their last win came on Dec. 18 against the New York Knicks. Incredibly, that was the only game the team has won during a 1-34 streak dating back to Nov. 30. The Cavaliers can set the NBA's all-time record for consecutive losses (regardless of whether it stretched over multiple seasons) during a Monday night game against the Mavericks in Dallas.

On paper, the Blazers looked like a fairly appealing opponent for the Cavaliers, as they started an undersized starting lineup, have struggled to generate offense lately and are short-handed due to multiple injuries. If ever there was a team ripe for the taking, it would have seemed to be Portland, who had lost four of five games coming into Saturday night, are playing without starting center Marcus Camby, who is out due to a recent knee surgery, and had failed to score more than 100 points since Jan. 20.

Unfortunately for the Cavaliers, who have arguably the least-talented roster in the NBA, they came out of the gates with a slow start, getting down by as many as seven points in the first quarter. Six second-quarter Cleveland three-pointers got things going, however, and the Cavaliers held a 57-55 halftime lead. Blazers forward Dante Cunningham sustained a blow to the head during the second quarter (he would not return to the game), and Cleveland exploited his absence nicely, attacking Portland’s paint on their way to 54.8% first-half shooting.

The Blazers have been dogged by terrible outside shooting in recent weeks, but that finally came to an end on Saturday night, especially in the second half, as Portland shot a season-best 12-19 as a team from deep, with guard Wesley Matthews (5-7) and forward Nicolas Batum (5-6) leading the way.

In the fourth quarter, the Cavaliers collapsed just like they did against the Grizzlies, giving up a game-changing 9-0 run in the middle of the quarter that made life easier for the Blazers down the stretch.

Matthews led the Blazers with 31 points. Antawn Jamison led the Cavaliers with 17 points. 

With the win, the Blazers avoided going o-fer on a three-game road trip which also included games at Denver and Indiana, improving to 27-24. The loss dropped Cleveland to 8-43 on the year. 

After a tough game against the Mavericks on Monday, the Cavaliers will have another good shot to break the streak. They host the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday night, beginning a home-stand that will also include games against the Los Angeles Clippers and Washington Wizards, who are both below .500.

Posted on: February 3, 2011 2:36 am
Edited on: February 3, 2011 2:40 am

Andre Miller doesn't care if Blazers trade him

Portland Trail Blazers point guard Andre Miller says he doesn't really care if he's traded prior to the NBA trade deadline. Posted by Ben Golliver. andre-miller

The Portland Trail Blazers had their season self-combust due to injuries, and any hope of entering a championship window -- building around Brandon Roy, Greg Oden and LaMarcus Aldridge -- has disappeared entirely. As such, it's crossroads time for new Blazers GM Rich Cho: to rebuild or to stay the course?

Rebuilding is the likely play, but that would require going young and shedding some of the team's older players with big-dollar deals in the name of flexibility. One of those players could be veteran point guard Andre Miller, who had his name floated in trade rumors last year and earlier this season as well.

NBA Fanhouse reports that Miller is indifferent to the trade talk.
"I don't really care, really,'' Miller said when asked in a FanHouse interview Wednesday whether his hope now is to remain in Portland rather than be traded. "You know what I'm saying? I would like to stay put, but it's a business and anything can happen.''
When asked if he believes there's a decent chance he'll be moved by the Feb. 24 trade deadline, Miller said, "Yeah. Yeah.''
"There's a chance,'' Miller said. "A lot of guys can get moved. Where? I don't know. At this point, hopefully it's not a team that's rebuilding. I wouldn't want to go back to like a Philly situation.''
Miller is a straight-talking, matter-of-fact speaker, so his blunt honesty shouldn't catch anyone by surprise. While Miller is still productive and a key piece of the Blazers team this season -- averaging 13.1 points, 7.1 assists and 3.7 rebounds -- as the team's only starting-quality point guard, his theoretical usefulness for the Blazers has come and gone. 

When Miller was signed in the summer of 2009, it was with the idea that he would help provide veteran leadership to a young team that was looking to take the next step in the playoffs. With Roy and Oden out of the picture indefinitely, the Blazers are now looking to build around Aldridge, wing Nicolas Batum and guard Wesley Matthews, a much less formidable trio. While Miller was supposed to guide the ship, that ship has sailed off in a totally different direction, replaced by a much less imposing dinghy. 

Miller is on the books for $7.3 million this season and a team option $7.8 million for next season, so a team that traded for him could simply let him walk this summer without any future financial obligation. He therefore would have appeal both to contenders looking to increase their depth without compromising their long-term flexibility and to rebuilding teams that are simply looking to dump a longer-term contract.

It also shouldn't be a huge surprise that Miller isn't as emotionally tied to Portland as he might have been in the past. He came to Portland with the goal of advancing out of the first round of the playoffs, to put a stamp on a long, successful NBA career. He hasn't accomplished that goal and he has no real ties to the area. If a contender was interested, who would blame him for reciprocating that interest and chasing playoff success somewhere else? 

Miller, with his on-the-ground game and savvy play, has plenty of NBA miles left. But he's nearing the end of his run as a game-changing starter. Whether he is moved prior to the deadline, during draft season or next year as an expiring contract remains an open question. The problem for Portland, of course, is the same one they have dealt with for a decade: Who can they find that is better?
Posted on: January 28, 2011 4:37 am
Edited on: January 28, 2011 12:59 pm

Nicolas Batum's MRI negative, day-to-day

Portland Trail Blazers forward Nicolas Batum suffered an injury to his left knee on Thursday night and will undergo an MRI. Posted by Ben Golliver.
Update (12:58 PM Friday): The Blazers have announced that Batum's MRI came back negative. The team said that Batum "has a bone contusion and is listed as day to day." Another bullet dodged for the Blazers.
Yes, you've heard this story from Portland before: a key member of the Trail Blazers is set to undergo an MRI on his knee after injuring it. This time around, it's starting small forward Nicolas Batum, who injured his left knee while defending Boston Celtics forward Paul Pierce on Thursday night. Batum is set to undergo an MRI on Friday morning.

The injury occurred during second quarter action, as Batum back-pedaled while Pierce drove hard to the hoop. There was no apparent contact and Batum never left the ground. Nevertheless, he was in immediate pain after the play and the Blazers were forced to take a timeout to remove him from the game. He exited the court, limping, and headed straight for the locker room.

Here's a look at the video.

  After the game, Batum, who appeared to be in a bit of shock or disbelief, was adamant that the injury will not require surgery. "I'm OK, Batum said. "Not worried. No surgery. I'm sure I won't get surgery. I'm sure. I know my body. I've had a couple of surgeries before. I know when I need surgery. For my shoulder, I knew I was going to need surgery. When I broke my foot five years ago, I knew I would need surgery."

However, Batum was unable to flex his left leg much and he used crutches -- which he said were precautionary -- to leave the arena. Batum admitted that there was some swelling on his knee but said it was just "a little bit."

Asked to describe how the injury happened, Batum replied, "I tried to block Paul Pierce, I tried to jump, I couldn't jump, I don't know why and I felt something stretch in my knee."

Portland has undergone an unprecedented rash of knee injuries this season. Center Greg Oden, guard Elliot Williams and former big man Jeff Pendergraph, who was released, all underwent season-ending knee surgeries since the start of training camp. All-Star guard Brandon Roy is out indefinitely after undergoing dual arthroscopic knee surgeries and center Marcus Camby is out for a few weeks after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery earlier this month. 

The Blazers did dodge one bullet this week, as power forward LaMarcus Aldridge, by far the team's best remaining healthy player, got good news on an MRI and X-rays taken on his sore right hip, as they revealed only a contusion.

Batum, a third-year player from France, starts at small forward and is averaging 12 points, 4.8 rebounds and 1.4 assists in 31 minutes per game so far this season. He mised much of last season after undergoing shoulder surgery.
Posted on: January 11, 2011 10:59 pm
Edited on: January 11, 2011 11:01 pm

Report: Batum-Favors is the Nuggets' endgame

Report: Nuggets angling for Nicolas Batum in the event Melo is traded as part of rebuilding effort.
Posted by Matt Moore

According to a report we mentioned earlier, the Denver Nuggets' angle in all this Carmelo-Anthony-trade in-and-out talk is to create a combination of Nicolas Batum and Derrick Favors. Following up on something Ken Berger of CBSSports.com reported last week, ESPN reports that Batum is a top target for Masai Ujiri and the Nuggets. Several teams have inquired of Batum's availability, but the Nuggets would have a good chance at him, provided they can get this never-ending deal with New Jersey done. 

Basically, it goes down like this. Denver trades Melo in the whole complicated three-way to New Jersey for Favors, Devin Harris, and picks. Since Denver already has Ty Lawson, whom they love with all their little hearts, they then trade Harris to the Blazers who have been trying to find a young guard upgrade over Andre Miller for the past century. They send Harris and a pick in order to get Batum. Then the Nuggets have their pick, a Nets future pick, Nicolas Batum, and Derrick Favors along with Ty Lawson and a bunch of older, often-injured bigs, but that too is solvable (starting with Kenyon Martin's huge expiring contract). 

With Batum the Nuggets would get a young, talented versatility player who can shoot from the outside, has a lot of athleticism, and most importantly, is a natural defender. Those are exceptionally rare in this league. Alongside Lawson with Favors low, the Nuggets would have a young core to build around. 

The question is whether Denver will actually ever pull the trigger on the first deal with New Jersey to facilitate a trade with Portland. So far, Denver's shown nothing but a penchant for watching the pitches pass them by.
Posted on: January 11, 2011 7:18 pm

All this Melodrama is holding up other deals

Posted by Royce Young

All the hemming and hawing between Denver and all involved parties over a potential Carmelo Anthony trade is holding up other deals, according to Fanhouse.

Mentioned in the report is that the Nuggets and Portland Trail Blazers would get together on a second trade if Carmelo is sent to the Nets. The deal would involve Devin Harris being sent to the Blazers for Nicolas Batum and Andre Miller. This isn't the first Batum rumor out there and from all indications, Portland is extremely against moving Batum. Miller on the other hand is someone that's likely available to any and all.

But with 15, 16, 17 and maybe even 18 players mentioned in the rumored three-way trade sending Anthony to New Jersey, a lot of other things and being hung up because of all the pieces involved. No telling what those deals might be, but evidently other teams are waiting to see how this pans out before they grab their phones.

It is a little funny how so many players are potentially set to be uprooted because of Carmelo's situation. With potentially 18 players getting flipped -- not to mention the draft picks -- it's understandable how other general managers might not know what to do right now. It's understandable for other GMs to wait and see who ends up where and if that player is actually a long term piece in that new place.

And it's not only players that are having their future held by the Nuggets dealing with Anthony. George Karl's contract extension has reportedly been delayed as well because of the Carmelo stuff. Karl has indicated he wants to stay in Denver as long as possible and the Nuggets appear to want to keep him. It's just that with all the uncertainty, I guess the Nuggets want to get things settled first.

On top of that, all of this is surely having an effect on the actual players still playing in Denver. Every day they have to come to practice or shootaround with media members armed and ready to fire away with trade related questions. I'm sure Chauncey Billups isn't excited to talk about a potential trade right now.

So with all of this hinging on trading Carmelo Anthony, it just seems like the Nuggets will start to get a little more proactive. They've already dragged this thing along for this long, so obviously they aren't in any kind of rush. Even if that means that a good portion of the league has to sit on its hands waiting to see what happens.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com