The Clippers are adding some depth to their wing rotation.
Shams Charania reports that the team will be signing Nicholas Batum once the soon-to-be free agent clears waivers. Batum spent the last five years with the Charlotte Hornets, but he and the Hornets parted ways so that the team could have enough cap space to sign Gordon Hayward.
Nicolas Batum plans to sign with the Los Angeles Clippers after he clears waivers, sources tell @TheAthleticNBA @Stadium.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) November 29, 2020
Charlotte’s loss is LA’s gain. The Clippers had essentially no wing depth beyond Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, and Batum immediately addresses that need. He’s 6’8, can handle the ball, and had extensive postseason experience in Portland before spending the latter part of his career with the Hornets.
The Clippers will presumably be acquiring Batum for the minimum given their cap inflexibility. He could also be getting the biannual exception worth $3.6 million. Batum is still due $27.1 million from Charlotte for the final year of his contract, so he isn’t exactly taking a haircut by coming to LA on a discount.
There were reportedly several teams interested in Batum’s services, but the Clippers have been linked to the 31-year-old just about half an hour after his release was officially announced.
Even though Batum has been a useful player for most of his career, it’s worth noting that his last season seemed to suggest he was headed for an early retirement. He missed most of the year with a hand injury and played in only 22 games. When he was on the court, he barely made an impact, averaging 3.6 points and 4.5 rebounds in 23.0 minutes per game while shooting 28.6 percent from 3-point range.
Despite one bad season, this is a great gamble for the Clippers to take. Batum should be revitalized by joining a contending team, and even if he isn’t, he’s coming a low cost. The free agent market for wings was bleak, but the Batum who existed before 2019 would be a great addition for the Clippers. Assuming he regains some of that form, the Clippers should be delighted to add him to their roster.