The impact that Nicolas Batum has had on the Hornets this season has him in line to land a major payday when he becomes an unrestricted free agent this offseason, Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer writes. The swingman is likely to seek a maximum salary contract this summer, and while it’s debatable whether Batum is worthy of that amount even with the salary cap set to increase drastically for 2016/17, Charlotte’s inability to lure top-tier free agents may make investing in him for the long-term a wise move, Bonnell adds. While Batum is not a star in the traditional sense, he does make his teammates around him better as well as provide coach Steve Clifford a well-rounded set of skills to utilize, Bonnell writes. Batum is averaging 14.8 points, 6.3 rebounds and 5.7 assists in 35.6 minutes per outing on the campaign.
Here’s more from the Eastern Conference:
- Much-maligned Knicks point guard Jose Calderon said he’s looking forward to playing with the Spanish national team in this summer’s Olympics, noting that he is “appreciated there,” Marc Berman of The New York Post relays. “I want to be there,’’ said Calderon. “It will be my fourth Olympics. I don’t know if I’ll have a chance to play more. I think four is a good number. After 16 years on the national team, I’m not going to get to 2020. It’s a little bit too far for me.” Calderon has one year and approximately $7.7MM remaining on his contract but the Knicks could use the stretch provision to waive him and save $5MM on next season’s cap.
- The Pacers have recalled Shayne Whittington from their D-League affiliate, the team announced. The center has appeared in 34 games for the Mad Ants this season, averaging 12.1 points, 8.0 rebounds, and 1.5 steals.