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Blazers Rumors: Batum, Hickson, Coach

In spite of weeks of trade speculation, the Trail Blazers kept both of their lottery picks last night, drafting Damian Lillard sixth overall and Meyers Leonard 11th. If the two newest Blazers sign typical rookie contracts (120% of the scale amount), they'll be on Portland's books for a total of about $5.2MM in 2012/13. Even with those salary commitments, the Blazers figure to have plenty of cap space this offseason to re-sign their own free agents and potentially pursue others. Here's the latest out of Portland on the team's summer plans….

  • Bouna Ndiaye, Nicolas Batum's agent, has asked Blazers GM Neil Olshey not to talk to his client, in an attempt to maintain leverage, according to Chris Haynes of "Out of respect for Bouna, I haven't spoken to Nicolas because it's not right," Olshey said. "If he (Ndiaye) gives me permission to talk to him, I will. But, he wants to control the process and I understand that."
  • Despite somewhat tense negotiations between Batum and the Blazers this year, Olshey remains confident that the restricted free agent will be back in Portland, and hopes Ndiaye will respect Portland's timeline: "Nicolas is going to be here and we'll get something done, but it's got to be done sequentially to make sure we maximize our flexibility in free agency."
  • The Blazers and J.J. Hickson's agent agreed to wait until after the draft to decide on Hickson's future, but expect the big man to be "set free," writes Haynes at CSNNW.
  • Olshey expects to have a new coach in place by the time teams are allowed to sign free agents on July 11th, says Dwight Jaynes of


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