Clippers In “Driver’s Seat” To Re-Sign Nicolas Batum

It’s “widely expected” that Nicolas Batum will re-sign with the Clippers on a two-year deal, league sources tell Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports.

Batum, 33, will be declining his player option for 2022/23, making him an unrestricted free agent, and he certainly won’t lack suitors. According to Haynes’ sources, the Lakers, Bulls, Celtics, Suns and Jazz are all interested in Batum’s services.

However, the Clippers remain the favorite, with Haynes describing the team as being “in the driver’s seat.”

League executives who spoke to Michael Scotto of HoopsHype believe Batum could earn about $10MM per year on his new contract, which is in line with the full mid-level exception for ’22/23 — it projects to be worth $10.35MM, while the taxpayer MLE would come in at $6.39MM.

Barring significant roster moves, none of the five rival teams interested in Batum will have cap space, with only Chicago projected to have the full MLE at its disposal. The Lakers, Celtics, Suns and Jazz all project to be taxpaying teams, as shown by our Offseason Previews, so they’ll be limited to the taxpayer MLE.

The Clippers will be well above the luxury tax line next season, but will hold Batum’s Early Bird rights, giving them the opportunity to make a competitive offer without using their mid-level exception. Los Angeles should be able to offer a starting salary up to approximately $11MM using the Early Bird exception. An Early Bird offer would have to be for at least two years, with no player or team option on that second year (though the second year doesn’t need to be fully guaranteed).

Batum spoke enthusiastically in May about the impact head coach Tyronn Lue has had on him and his desire to remain with the Clippers.

Across two seasons and 126 games with the Clippers, Batum has averaged 8.2 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 2.0 APG, and 1.0 SPG with a .402 3PT% in 26.2 minutes per contest while playing solid, versatile defense. We ranked him 23rd overall last week in our list of 2022’s top 50 free agents.

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