This is setting up to possibly be a pretty straightforward offseason for the Los Angeles Clippers as far as retaining their own players is concerned. The team already locked up Robert Covington back in early May, and if the latest reports that are trickling in are to be believed, it appears that Nicolas Batum could be rejoining him in Los Angeles.
Batum, 33, recently opted out of his player option for next season, but that also wasn’t shocking news since the calculus of it all seemed to give the Clippers a better chance at retaining his services. It’s something that Yahoo! Sports’ Chris Haynes outlined today in his latest column (emphasis mine):
Los Angeles Clippers forward Nicolas Batum is declining his $3.3 million player option to hit free agency, but it is widely expected that he will re-sign a new two-year deal, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
Considering the fact that the Clippers possess Early Bird rights on Nicolas Batum, it appears that the veteran forward is poised to re-sign for two years and roughly $23 million thanks to that provision. The Clippers can go over the cap to retain the Frenchman.
However, the Clippers aren’t the only team looking at procuring Batum this offseason, as Haynes also detailed:
It is anticipated that the Los Angeles Lakers, Chicago Bulls, Boston Celtics, Phoenix Suns and Utah Jazz will have strong interest in trying to pry away the 14-year veteran from Clipper Land, sources said.
For the most part, that list is comprised of contending teams that could use Batum’s valuable leadership and two-way ability to aid them in their respective pursuits of a championship. But Batum has been pretty outspoken about how much the Clippers and coach Tyronn Lue have meant to him, telling French media in an interview recently that Lue “saved my life.”
Haynes notes that, according to sources, the “Clippers are in the driver’s seat” as far as luring Batum back is concerned. Haynes also mentioned that Batum appears to fit “seamlessly” with the team:
He has emerged as a locker room favorite whose unselfish play and spot-up shot-making ability fits in seamlessly with franchise cornerstones Kawhi Leonard and Paul George.
In his two seasons with the Clippers, Batum has averaged 8.2 points, 4.5 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.0 steals and shot 46% from the field and 40% on 3s.