Joining a new team always presents challenges. There’s a new playbook to learn, a new city to live in, and new teammates to adjust to. That last piece could be particularly troubling if a free agent joins a team that had well-documented chemistry issues the year before.
But Nicolas Batum hasn’t found any challenges in his move to Los Angeles. He’s grateful to be in such a promising situation to compete for a title in his 13th year in the league, especially after being marooned in Eastern Conference mediocrity for half a decade. And team chemistry has been the least of his concerns, as he told the media Tuesday.
“The transition has been pretty easy,” Batum said. “This is a great group, like you can hear a lot of stuff all around, but I didn’t see it yet. That’s good. I don’t think I’m gonna see it this year. The group is great, you know, guys, they welcomed me with open arms. Like yesterday, I’ve been here for a week and they already called me and texted me for my birthday yesterday, so that was great. So, you know, love these guys, love this group. It’s been fun on the court, it’s been fun off the court as well.”
Batum went on to say that he probably has the most conversations with Reggie Jackson, whose locker is next to his, but he’s had a great time with Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, and Marcus Morris Sr., among others.
He’s also made a different connection with Serge Ibaka, as the two are both French speakers. Batum said that they’ve already communicated in French while on the court together during the preseason.
“Actually did it a couple times last game, and that’s sometimes the strength you can have, you can talk in your own language about defense and stuff like that,” Batum said. “The opponent can’t understand what you’re saying, so it can be an advantage sometimes.”
With a shortened preseason and an offense dictated by feel thus far rather than set plays, Batum noted how important it was for the team to develop chemistry. It’s been a smooth process, but that’s because the Clippers are making more of an effort this year than last. The returnees have reached out to the new players, and they’ve all taken advantage of their limited practice time to build cohesion on and off the court.
Batum has been part of successful NBA teams in Portland and successful international teams playing for France, so he knows what works when he sees it. If he thinks the Clippers are on the right track in terms of their locker room dynamics, that’s a good start for the 2020-21 season.
More news for Wednesday:
- John Hollinger previews the Clippers season and makes a bold bet for the team’s record.
- The Nike Earned Edition jerseys for last year’s playoff teams have leaked, and the Clippers’ uniforms are... blah.
- David Aldridge details how the NBA is keeping its social justice mission alive this season.
- Giannis Antetokounmpo has agreed to remain in Milwaukee for the next five seasons, which means the no. 1 free agent in the summer of 2021 is Kawhi Leonard. Toronto will have cap space!
- Michael Pina spoke with a photographer who spent time with Antetokounmpo in Greece.
- Henry Abbott has some radical, but really interesting, ideas about managing player rest during this season.
- Anthony Carter’s agent Bill Duffy forgot to send in the paperwork on time to exercise Carter’s player option in 2003. Sopan Deb has the rest of the story 17 years later.
- Rohan Nadkarni profiles the star of the NBA bubble and why he thinks the Miami Heat will win the title this year.