No Batum a good thing, maybe. . .

BOESE:Phersy and Feldy have turned Faceoff into one of the most popular features on the Post-Bulletin sports page. Somehow. Rather than letting those puckheads have all the fun, I've managed to drag Pat Ruff into a (mostly) basketball-related back-and-forth that has two main purposes: discuss the local hoops scene and give me an outlet to respond to the endless Faceoff jabs.

So turn your classical music up loud, old-timer, and let's educate the masses.

Portland just ended the ridiculously bitter battle over Nic Batum with our Wolves by matching the outlandish four-year, $46.5 million offer sheet he signed to play alongside Love and Rubio. The 6-8 wing is an athletic up-and-comer, but the guy was also third in scoring (13.9), fifth in rebounding (4.6) and seventh in assists (1.4) on a non-playoff team last year.

What do you think, Ruff? Do we need to give the much-maligned Kahn credit for sticking a division rival with an ugly contract or did we miss out on the guy who would propel us to the postseason for the first time since 2003-04?

RUFF:In no way was Kahn's primary focus here to stick the Blazers with a horrible contract. He did his mighty best to make his hometown team (he's a Portland guy) cry uncle with that bloated contract proposal. Kahn, and it seems Wolves coach Rick Adelman, really wanted the Blazers to turn this tall, skinny, French-speaking dude who most non-basketball people had never heard of, over to the Wolves.


It didn't happen. Now that crazy contract is Portland's. And I'm left not knowing what to think. I have to admit, I had fantasized about the richly long and athletic Batum catching alley-oop passes in transition from Ricky Rubio, then the two celebrating in some Mediterranean mix of Spanish and French.

But I had also feared Batum joining the Wolves. His numbers, at least so far, didn't add up to big-time money. Anyway, the Wolves better move on and in a hurry. Their next target should be former Adelman guard/forward Courtney Lee. He can score and defend. Do you like him?

BOESE:Reuniting Lee with Adelman would seem logical, but at what cost? He'd fill a hole as a shooter, but he's also a one-dimensional offensive player; Lee's never averaged more than 1.7 assists or 2.7 rebounds.

The Wolves have also been linked to former Bulls shooting guard Ronnie Brewer and a bunch of bigs. It sure seems like Kahn is pretty content with some combination of Rubio/Ridnour/Barea/Roy/Shved/Budinger at the guard spots while turning the slimmed down Derrick Williams loose at small forward. And that's without mentioning busty Wes Johnson.

Speaking of Rubio, what can we expect from the Spaniard coming off an ACL tear? The Wolves went from league darling to ugly duckling real quick without him.

RUFF:The word from Adelman is that Rubio is actually ahead of schedule with his rehabilitation. But the guess is that even if the dazzling Spaniard is ready for the opener, we're not going to see the real Rubio until near season's end, if that soon.

He's going to initially have trouble staying in front of people defensively, and will lack the burst to drive past people. With that, it's tough picturing this team taking a big step in 2012-13. What do you think, wide-shouldered bald man, will the Wolves have upgraded their roster enough to make a playoff push with Rubio at much less than 100 percent?

BOESE:Tough call. So much depends on Rubio's knee. The West is deeper than than your range at the RAC — barely — and the Northwest Division might be the best in the league, but I still believe they'll sneak into the playoffs and be dangerous. Assuming Love brings his beard back.

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