Nicolas Batum’s stint with the Charlotte Hornets came to an end Sunday, when the team waived the veteran forward ahead of the 2020-21 season. Charlotte is expected to use the stretch provision on Batum, which will allow it to spread the final year of his contract over multiple years. The downside is the Hornets now have his money on the books for an extended period, but the upside is they’ll have enough cap space to complete the signing of Gordon Hayward on a four-year, $120 million deal.
As for Batum, it didn’t take him long to find a new team. He’ll be signing with the Los Angeles Clippers once he clears waivers, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania. Though still only 31 years old, Batum has struggled in recent years, both with injuries and a decline in form. Last season he managed to appear in just 22 games, in part due to a broken finger, and averaged a career-low 3.6 points per game on 34.6 percent shooting.
In his prime, Batum would have been a perfect fit for this Clippers team due to his size on the wing and versatility on both sides of the ball. These days, it’s hard to see him playing a big role for this team. Admittedly the Clippers are a bit thin on the wing, so as a low-risk, high-reward move, it’s worth a shot to bring Batum in for some extra depth. He’s still smart and skilled enough that if he’s healthy he could give them some minutes over the course of the season, but there shouldn’t be any major expectations here.
We see these kind of moves all the time, where a contender brings in a veteran who was dumped by a bad team, and most of the time they all go the same way. There’s a bunch of initial excitement because it’s a big name on the move, then they get on the court and everyone remembers why they were let go, and they don’t make much of an impact in the playoffs.
Again, there’s no harm in signing Batum, because the Clippers aren’t going to get anyone else with his level of talent. Hopefully it works out for both parties, but we know how these things usually end up.