Veteran forward Nicolas Batum is re-signing with the Los Angeles Clippers after agreeing to a two-year, $22 million contract, according to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports.
Batum hit the open market this summer after declining his $3.3 million player option for the 2022-23 NBA season. Given how much he thrived in L.A., a return to the Clippers always seemed the likeliest outcome.
In two seasons with the team, the 33-year-old Frenchman averaged 8.2 points, 4.5 rebounds and 2.0 assists. He also shot 46.3 percent from the field and 40.2 percent from three-point territory.
While Batum didn't fill up the stat sheet quite to the extent he did during his best years with the Portland Trail Blazers and Charlotte Hornets, he thrived as a reserve in Los Angeles' rotation and provided much-needed floor-spacing.
His 108 made three-pointers were third-most on the team in 2021-22 as he shot 40 percent from beyond the arc.
There's no question the Clippers fell short of expectations in the 2020 playoffs when they lost to the Denver Nuggets in the conference semifinals. Their run to the Western Conference Finals in 2020-21 and ninth-place finish this past season illustrated how much depth they've boasted behind Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, though.
Los Angeles claimed Batum off waivers in December 2020. He had made just 22 appearances for the Hornets the previous season, and his departure from Charlotte came after nobody wanted to assume his $27 million salary.
The Clippers correctly identified how he still had plenty left in the tank and that his performance might improve if he were playing on a title contender.
When Leonard underwent surgery for a partially torn ACL in July 2021, the franchise was looking at a lost season in 2021-22. Any pursuit of a championship went out the window for the time being.
With the five-time All-Star progressing in his injury recovery, Los Angeles should be right back in the thick of the race for the top seed in the Western Conference. Holding on to Batum will help the Clippers get there.