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Nicolas Batum declines player option with Clippers

The veteran forward has declined his player option with the Clippers and elected to hit free agency.

LA Clippers v Minnesota Timberwolves - Play-In Tournament Photo by Jordan Johnson/NBAE via Getty Images

Nicolas Batum has opted to decline his player option and elected to enter free agency, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Batum has spent the last two seasons with the Los Angeles Clippers and been a vital cog that’s allowed the team to have a successful run. Batum had until June 29 to make a decision.

Batum had a player option worth $3.3 million for the upcoming season, but by declining it he’s allowed himself to hit a free agent market that should see plenty of contending teams attempt to make a run at securing his services.

For the Clippers, this news was expected. With all things considered, Batum opting out most likely will aid the Clippers in securing his services for the perceived future as they can now offer him more money than the player option he declined. It paves the way for the two sides to potentially agree on a multi-year deal using Batum’s Early Bird rights.

Batum, 33, has played in 126 games with the Clippers since the team signed him as a free agent prior to the 2020-21 season after the Charlotte Hornets used the stretch provision on him that summer. In that time, Batum has averaged 8.2 points, 4.5 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.0 steals while shooting 40.2% on 3s. He’s also averaged a 2.7 assist-to-turnover ratio.

The veteran has seen time at both forward spots and also at center in small-ball lineups for the Clippers. His unselfish style of play lends itself to team basketball and he’s been a seamless fit in coach Tyronn Lue’s offense and locker room. Batum has celebrated Lue as someone who “saved my life.”

Because of the stretch provision that was used on him by Charlotte, Batum is slated to make $8.9 million next season from the Hornets. Should Batum opt to re-sign with the Clippers using his Early Bird rights, the first year of Batum’s new deal would check in at roughly $10.9 million which means the Frenchman could be making roughly $20 million overall next season thanks to both the Hornets and Clippers.

As an unrestricted free agent, Batum will have a host of suitors. After the re-signing of Robert Covington was completed earlier this offseason, Batum remains the biggest free agent the Clippers have. He’s going to be at the top of their priority list. During a recent Twitter Q&A, Batum highlighted what it’s like to play alongside Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, as well as praised everyone for embracing him and his family.

Batum is a 14-year NBA veteran. He’s averaged 11.1 points, 5.1 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.0 steals over 915 games during his career.