One down, two to go.
The Clippers had three primary free agents they needed to bring back this offseason, and have come to terms with the first, as Shams Charania reports that Nicolas Batum is returning on a two-year deal.
Batum’s wife Lily seems happy about the move.
Batum was being actively pursued by the Golden State Warriors, but the role he had in Los Angeles playing for Ty Lue was too good to pass up. The Clippers gave Batum a two-year deal, with a player option for year two, per reporting from ESPN. That means he has an implicit no-trade clause, so he will certainly be staying in Los Angeles.
This was a coup of a negotiation for the Clippers, who didn’t have to give Batum their taxpayer midlevel exception, valued at $5.9 million this year. Per reports from Andrew Greif of the L.A. Times, the Clippers paid Batum a 120 percent raise on his contract from last year, which was a minimum deal. Presumably, Batum received more lucrative offers. Sometimes, it’s just about fit.
Once Batum completes this year of his contract, the Clippers will have his early bird rights once he opts out. That means they can offer him a starting salary above $10 million, which would be more commensurate with his value as a player. Therefore, this deal seems like the continuation of a long-term relationship between Batum and the team.
Currently, Batum is in Tokyo preparing for the medal round of the Olympics. France, which went undefeated in the group stage, will play Italy in the quarterfinals tomorrow.