Nicolas Batum opting out of Clippers contract
The Clippers re-signed Nicolas Batum last year to a relatively cheap 1+1 Non-Bird Exception contract that looked designed to allow him to get a big raise once the team held his Early Bird Rights this offseason.
Batum is taking the next step in that apparent plan by declining his $3,328,530 player option for next season.
Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:
Clippers F Nic Batum will decline his $3.3M player option and become a free agent, sources tell ESPN. There’s expected to be mutual interest with Clippers and Batum on reaching a new deal in July.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 21, 2022
The Clippers can re-sign Batum for the Early Bird Exception (projected to be worth $50 million over four years). That deal projects to have an $11 million starting salary – obviously way more than Batum’s player option salary – plus a multi-year guarantee for the 33-year-old.
Though that’d raise LA’s luxury-tax bill even higher, Clippers owner Steve Ballmer has proven his willingness to spend to maximize the roster. And Batum maximizes the roster.
Batum is a versatile frontcourt player—someone who can defend multiple positions and even play small-ball center. He fits nicely with Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, both switching defensively and keeping the ball moving and spotting up to create space offensively.