Blazers meet with F Batum
By ANNE M. PETERSON
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) The Trail Blazers have met with restricted free-agent Nicolas Batum and told him they'd like to keep him in Portland.
A Blazers spokesman confirmed the meeting and reiterated that the team intends to match any offer that the French forward might attract. Portland earlier extended Batum a qualifying offer.
Batum's meeting with new Blazers general manager Neil Olshey and other team representatives in Portland on Thursday was first reported by The Oregonian newspaper.
Batum met earlier this week with the Timberwolves.
While the free-agency market opened on Sunday, a moratorium on signings lasts until July 11. If a restricted free agent signs an offer sheet, the team that holds its rights will have three days after that date to decide whether to match the deal or let him go.
The 23-year-old Batum has averaged 10.2 points and 3.9 rebounds over four seasons with the Blazers.
Portland also is interested in restricted free agent center Roy Hibbert, who Olshey met with at the start of free agency last Saturday. Like Portland with Batum, Indiana can match any offer for the 7-foot-2 center.
Hibbert averaged 12.8 points and 8.8 rebounds, both career highs, this past season with the Pacers and was selected an All-Star for the first time. He helped Indiana win its first playoff series in seven years and even take a 2-1 lead over Miami in the second round.
According to various reports, Portland will extend a four-year, $58 million offer sheet for Hibbert.
At a charity picnic in June, Pacers coach Frank Vogel said of Hibbert: "Of course this isn't going to be his last time in Indy, he's not going anywhere."
Updated July 5, 2012