Our 213 Hoops roundtable series continues with a discussion on the signing of fan favorite Nic Batum after a marvelous 2021 campaign.
Erik Olsgaard: A
The most difficult task for the Clippers’ off-season was always going to be retaining the players who had breakout seasons last year. While Reggie Jackson had an incredible playoff run, his skillset is more niche. Nic Batum’s skillset, on the other hand, is one that all 29 other teams in the NBA could immediately benefit from: a knockdown shooter that can play off-ball and reliably guard 1-5. It’s no wonder that every contender in the league was rumored to have eyes for Nico. In the end, the Clippers were able to bring back the Frenchman. It seems, based on comments from Nico and his family, that the Clippers’ team culture—and fanbase—were just too special to walk away from.
Ralston Dacanay: A+
Seeing Nicolas Batum go out there and kick ass after the way the Clippers hyped him up last summer was absolutely unreal to watch. Both him and his beautiful family (Shout-out Lily!) are a delight to have be a part of Clipper Nation. Having him return, not only on a non-bird deal that cleared the way for other moves, but also keeping him away from Golden State was huge for the direction of this team. Bravo, Batum Battalion.
Cole Huff: A+
I, for one, thought Nico would be unattainable. He outplayed his veteran minimum contract last season by a mile, and it seemed like he’d be a high priority this offseason for a number of other championship-contending teams that had a bit more money to spend on him. So, Nico turning down those options to remain put for multiple years on a less than TPMLE deal is a huge win for the Clippers. Again, just a credit to the FO for pressing all of the necessary buttons to really re-build the locker room and provide a homely environment for these players (see Reggie Jackson).
“Consistently the best defender on the team throughout the season,” “the best vet min player in the league,” and “the biggest steal of the 2020 free agency period,” are amongst the many sentiments echoed by our 213hoops contributors throughout the 2020/21 season when referencing Nicolas Batum. And as the 2021/22 offseason nears its end, nearly all of the aforementioned compliments could hold true for another season. And from Nicardio to the Batum Battalion, Nico (and Lily) Batum became fan favorites in a short amount of time throughout the season. I’m confident in saying that everyone in the fanbase is thrilled to have Nico back.
Shapan Debnath: A+
What’s not to love about this deal? Nico was the Clipper I felt the team was most likely to lose this offseason because of his demand around the league, but he sacrificed because he sees a future for himself with a team, and a fanbase, that has given his career a second life. His whole arc with the Clippers has been very fulfilling and perhaps it shouldn’t surprise anyone that he stayed after how glowingly he has spoken about the franchise throughout his stay here.
Joey Linn: A+
Not only was Nicolas Batum perfect in his role for the Clippers last season, but he very quickly became a fan favorite as well. In 67 games for the Clippers last season, Batum averaged 8.1 PPG while shooting 40.4% from deep. His ability to switch defensively and make the right plays offensively helped him take home the 3rd best plus/minus rating on the Clippers last season, right behind Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. After Kawhi and PG, Batum was frequently the Clippers next most reliable player. There was not going to be an easy way to replace Batum had he gone to one of the teams seeking to pry him from Los Angeles, so it is essential that the Clippers were able to bring him back.
Lucas Hann: A+++++++++++++++
I almost don’t want to give the Clippers too much credit here, because this was all Nico being selfless and taking way less money than he could have gotten on the open market to stay with the team. But it’s worth noting that the team actually created an environment where guys want to be–both initially when he chose LAC over a slate of other good playoff teams after his buyout in Charlotte, and now that he took far less money than he could have gotten elsewhere to run it back. That’s pretty special. Nico’s definitely in the Clippers role player pantheon.
Kenneth Armstrong: A
Although I knew the Clippers needed to prioritize bringing Kawhi and Reggie back, I was very anxious about what the Clipper would do to replace Batum, if he left. Simply put, he did everything for the Clippers last year. He led the team in minutes, guarded one-through-five, and was a low-maintenance, fan favorite all year. But what makes his re-signing even better is the price: the fact that the Clipper did not have to give him in the TMLE was crucial and allowed them to improve on the margins by using it on Winslow and BJ Boston.
Robert Flom: A+
This is one of the easiest grades I’ve ever given out in seven years of writing about the Clippers. Nic Batum was fantastic last year in a vacuum (the Clippers’ best defender, a very good shooter, and someone who did all the little things on the courtt), and his versatility also unlocked the Clippers’ playoff small-ball linueps. His value last year had to have been worth well north of $10M, yet the Clippers were able to keep him at just over $3M due to the quality of the locker room and team environment, and their promise of future contention. Nico would have been one of the most beloved one-year Clippers’ ever if he’d left this summer, so keeping him at such a discount to enable him to have many more memorable moments (including hopefully lifting a championship trophy) in a Clippers’ jersey is one of the best pieces of business this front office has ever done or will ever do.
That about does it for this roundtable on the Clippers’ signing of Nic Batum. Leave your own thoughts on the Nic Batum signing below!