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April 27, 2015 Updates
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Trail Blazers forward Nicolas Batum has apologized for his role in a team motivational message that included an inflammatory remark about Spanish players, which was perceived as a shot at Grizzlies All-Star center Marc Gasol. "I apologize if I hurt some people," Batum said before the Blazers practiced Tuesday at FedEx Forum. "But I have total respect for Marc Gasol. He knows that. We've talked about it sometimes." Batum said his intent was never to harm Spanish people or anyone else when he contributed to a list of motivation themes the Trail Blazers posted inside the visitors' locker room before their 100-86 loss Sunday to Memphis in Game 1 of their first-round playoff series. Among the messages on the laminated card was the phrase: "We don't lose to Spanish players." ESPN.com

Batum confirmed Tuesday he was responsible for the part about Spanish players and that a longstanding international basketball rivalry between France and Spain was the source of the comment. He said the message was not intended as a cultural or racist insult. Portland coach Terry Stotts and several of the team's players have said the card was never meant to be seen by media members who entered the locker room Sunday. But they also insisted nothing on the card was meant to be offensive. ESPN.com

Batum said he has not heard from the league about any potential disciplinary action and that he had not yet reached out to Gasol to apologize directly. Batum said he may have a chance during Wednesday's game to speak to Gasol to make sure the Memphis star understands the intent was not to be offensive. ESPN.com

Batum said his girlfriend, who is of Russian and Spanish descent, fussed at him for not understanding how his message on the team card could be interpreted if presented without context. "I understand how it could get out, get around and hurt people," Batum said. "I joked with Spanish players before and I do with French players all the time. I don't hate Spanish people. My girlfriend is Spanish. I don't think Marc will make a big deal about this. Worse things [are] said between France and Spain [on the court] in the summer than this was. Trust me." ESPN.com

April 20, 2015 Updates
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April 15, 2015 Updates

Latvian big man Kristaps Porzingis will declare for the 2015 NBA draft, his agent, Andy Miller, told ESPN.com. Porzingis is averaging 10.3 points per game, 4.5 rebounds and is shooting 33 percent from 3 in 21 minutes for his team Baloncesto Sevilla in the Spanish ACB. His numbers have been even better in Eurocup play, averaging 11.6 points, 4.1 rebounds and shooting 46 percent from 3. Porzingis burst onto the NBA draft scene about this time last year when he declared for the 2014 NBA draft. As NBA teams scrambled to get to Spain to watch him play, they became enamored with his rare combination of size, athleticism, ability to protect the rim and shooting range. ESPN.com

"He's an athletic, super-skilled 7-footer who can do everything well," one GM said. "I was watching him warm up and had flashbacks to when I saw Pau Gasol take the floor for the first time in Spain, only this kid is much more athletic than Gasol but plays with that same fluidity. I've been asking my team since then: Are you sure he's not the No. 1 guy? Are these guys in college really better than him?" ESPN.com

April 14, 2015 Updates

Kristaps Porzingis of Baloncesto Seville has been named the winner of the 2014-15 Eurocup Rising Star Trophy. The 19-year-old Latvian big man comes off a strong season - his second in the competition - for Seville, which he led to the Eurocup Last 32. The Eurocup Rising Star Trophy recognizes the most outstanding player in the competition who was younger than 22 years of age on July 1 of the summer before the season started. RealGM

April 11, 2015 Updates

Minnesota Timberwolves point guard Ricky Rubio will have arthroscopic surgery on his left ankle early next week, a league source told Yahoo Sports. Rubio missed 43 games after badly spraining his left ankle on Nov. 7 against the Orlando Magic. The source said the surgery is considered to be a "minor cleanup" after the Spaniard had his "good and bad days" after returning to play. Rubio is expected to be ready for the T'wolves training camp next season, but the source said it is "highly unlikely" he will play for Spain this summer during the European championships. Minnesota signed Rubio to a four-year contract extension worth $55 million in November. He finishes the season with career lows in field-goal percentage (35.6) and 3-point percentage (25.5) while averaging 10.3 points, 8.8 assists and 1.7 steals in 22 games. The ankle injury and a torn left anterior cruciate ligament in his rookie year has limited Rubio to playing just 202 of a possible 309 games in his four-year NBA career. Yahoo! Sports

April 10, 2015 Updates

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