Nicolas Batum Rumors: Lakers, Celtics, Bulls, More Linked; Clippers Contract Likely

Adam WellsJune 22, 2022

LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 15: Robert Covington #23 of the LA Clippers and Nicolas Batum #33 celebrate against the New Orleans Pelicans during the 2022 play-in tournament on April 15, 2022 at Crypto.Com Arena in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2022 NBAE (Photo by Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images)
Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images

Amid reports he intends to opt out of his deal, Nicolas Batum will have no shortage of suitors in free agency if he wants to leave the Los Angeles Clippers.

Per Yahoo Sports' Chris Haynes, the Los Angeles Lakers, Boston Celtics, Chicago Bulls, Phoenix Suns and Utah Jazz are expected to have "strong interest" in Batum.

Haynes did note the Clippers "are in the driver's seat" to retain the 33-year-old.

ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported on Tuesday that Batum will decline his $3.3 million option for next season, but there is "mutual interest" between him and the Clippers on reaching a new deal when free agency begins in July.

Batum officially has until June 29 to decide about his contract, but it would seem to be in his best financial interest to become a free agent.

Per ESPN's Bobby Marks, the Clippers have Batum's early Bird rights and can re-sign him to a two-year deal worth up to $10.9 million.

Bobby Marks @BobbyMarks42

Batum has early bird rights and the Clippers can sign him to a contract up to $10.9M.<br><br>A new contract has to be for a minimum of 2 years and cannot include (if signed with early bird rights) a player option after year 1.<br><br>He is also earning $8.9M from Charlotte in 2022/23. <a href="https://t.co/V1mcP3lcTr">https://t.co/V1mcP3lcTr</a>

It's not hard to see why so many playoff contenders would like to sign Batum. The 14-year veteran is a 36.3 percent shooter from three-point range on 4.4 attempts per game in his career.

Among the teams Haynes mentioned as having interest in Batum, the Lakers were the only one that ranked in the bottom half of the league in three-point shooting last season. They finished 22nd overall, connecting on 34.7 percent of their attempts behind the arc.

Batum's familiarity with the Clippers organization could work in the Clippers' favor. The France native knows how he fits in head coach Tyronn Lue's system and what is going to be asked of him.

The Clippers are a potential sleeping giant in the Western Conference heading into next season. They finished 42-40 in 2021-22 despite not having Paul George (elbow) for 51 games (elbow) and Kawhi Leonard (ACL) for the entire season.

Batum's combination of size and scoring efficiency make him a highly valuable player. He has been a starter for the bulk of his career, but as he showed in 2020-21, he can be effective off the bench as well.