Our exit interview series for the 2024 Clippers starts with beloved former role player Nic Batum.

Basic Information

Height: 6’8

Weight: 230 pounds

Position: Power Forward/Small Forward

Age: 35

Years in NBA: 16

Key Clippers Regular Season Stats: 2.7 points, 1.7 assists, 2.3 rebounds, 1.0 steals, 1.3 blocks, and 0.3 turnovers in 18.0 minutes per game across 3 games played (0 starts) on 37.5/28.6 (2.3 3PA and 0 FTA attempts) shooting splits (50.0 True Shooting)

Expectations

Going into his 4th season on the Clippers, it was expected that Nic’s role would be relatively similar to prior seasons, just in a scaled down minutes load. That meant playing the backup 4 off the bench, filling in as a starter as needed, and frequently closing games as the 4 or small-ball five. The expectations for Nico were as high as the bar he set – consistently good defense, excellent outside shooting, and the ability to make quick decisions on both sides of the ball. With minutes declining each of his previous seasons with the Clippers, the thought was Nic would play fewer minutes in the regular season and then ramp up in the playoffs.

Reality

Nic was traded just three games into the 2024 season as part of the James Harden deal. He was looking to be a bench player behind Robert Covington, but it was clear the roster was going to get shaken up by the Harden deal or some other move. Still, it was a shock to see the Clippers move on from Nico, who was beloved by fans, coaches, other players, and the front office alike.

After understandably taking a week or so to mentally deal with the trade, Nico joined the Sixers and ended up being by far the biggest on-court piece of the Harden trade. He averaged 5.5 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 2.2 assists in 25.9 minutes per game while playing his usual terrific defense and shooting 39.9% from three on medium volume. Classic Nico stuff. Along the way, he won the hearts of Sixers’ fans for his clutch play and ability to do the little things, like throw entry passes to Joel Embiid. Sadly, despite a terrific individual postseason, Nico’s season ended just like the Clippers’ – a first round exit in six games.

The Clippers desperately missed what Nic brought to the table, even though James Harden was obviously the more impactful player. They missed his three-point shooting, his defensive versatility, his steadiness, and his ability to unlock multiple different kinds of lineups. It’s really too bad he had to be part of the trade, especially since it seems like the swap of him for PJ Tucker was maybe the last chip that pushed the deal over the finish line.

Future with Clippers

Nico talked last summer about how the 2024 season was quite possibly going to be his last in the NBA. Nico’s season on the Sixers showed he still has a lot of juice left – in fact, all the key stakeholders on the Sixers seem to be going full-court press on Nico to convince him to re-sign this summer. So, it is possible that Nic Batum is back in the NBA next year. However, if he does return, it seems likely he’d go back to the Sixers, not the Clippers. Thus, I’d imagine the chances of Nic Batum in a Clippers’ jersey again are slim – but you never know.

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