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Nicolas Batum Enters Health And Safety Protocols

Clippers veteran Nicolas Batum has entered the league’s health and safety protocols, according to Andrew Greif of the Los Angeles Times (Twitter link). Shams Charania of The Athletic tweets that Batum is expected to miss at least 10 days of action.

Batum, 32, is a key cog in Los Angeles’ rotation. In 14 games this season (13 starts), he’s averaged 9.8 points and 5.5 rebounds per contest, shooting 52% from the floor and 44% from three-point range.

In addition to Batum, Marcus Morris (left knee), Jason Preston (right foot surgery) and Kawhi Leonard (right knee; ACL reconstruction) remain sidelined for the Clippers. The team started third-year player Amir Coffey — who went undrafted in 2019 — against Dallas on Sunday in Batum’s place.

Clippers head coach Tyronn Lue previously said the club was fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Los Angeles currently owns a 10-7 record, good for the fourth-best in the Western Conference.

Clippers Notes: Ibaka, Batum, Morris, Leonard

Clippers center Serge Ibaka had never been in the G League before, but he thought it was the best way to get playing time after returning from offseason back surgery, writes Andrew Greif of The Los Angeles Times. The team already had an established center rotation with Ibaka out, as Ivica Zubac and Isaiah Hartenstein split time in the middle. Ibaka only saw eight and five minutes in his first two games, so he volunteered to join the Clippers’ Agua Caliente affiliate.

“At least if you’re Kawhi (Leonard) or Kevin Durant or Stephen Curry, those kind of guys they can sit for three years and they’re going to come back, (teams are) going to give them minutes, they’re going to give them — they’re going to try to get them their confidence,” Ibaka said. “At least if you are one of those guys, you can stay, but if you’re not one of those guys, one of those names out there, sometimes you have to work for yourself to go get your confidence because nobody is going to give you that.”

Ibaka was productive during his four games in the G League, averaging 15.5 points and 9.3 rebounds per night while shooting 43% from the floor. It was his first significant playing time in several months, as back issues limited him to 41 games last season and 18 total minutes in two playoff games. He believes he made a mistake by not having the operation on his back sooner.

“A lot of things were happening last year, a lot of information,” Ibaka said. “… Most important thing, I’m good and back, so I learned from that. I’m sure we all learned from that.”

There’s more Clippers news to pass along:

  • Nicolas Batum is playing with a sore Achilles, but he doesn’t want to take time off because the team is already short handed and is facing a challenging part of the schedule, per Mirjam Swanson of The Orange County Register“We miss so many key guys, we don’t have the luxury to really relax,” Batum said after Friday’s loss in New Orleans. “We don’t have Kawhi, we don’t have (Marcus Morris), we don’t have Serge yet. So we still really have to focus on those big leads, stay focused and keep playing the right way – don’t change the way we play.”
  • Morris isn’t considering knee surgery and his plans to recondition it haven’t changed since training camp opened, according to Law Murray of The Athletic. Morris, who hasn’t played since October 23, has been participating in five-on-five scrimmages and may be ready for the next homestand.
  • There’s at least an even-money chance that Leonard will return before the end of the season, Murray speculates.

Clippers Cancel Shootaround Due To Protocols, Expect To Play Tonight

The Clippers canceled today’s morning shootaround due to precautionary concerns related to COVID-19, but tonight’s game against the Mavericks shouldn’t be affected, writes Mirjam Swanson of The Orange County Register.

The team’s training center was quiet this morning, Swanson adds, and a formal announcement from the organization was made at 9:15 Pacific Time, citing issues involving the league’s health and safety protocols.

Veteran swingman Nicolas Batum entered the protocols on Sunday after being a late scratch for that night’s game. No one has stated whether Batum tested positive for the virus, but he is projected to miss at least 10 days. That timeline suggests a positive test.

“I’m not sure the days, but I expect him to be out for (a while),” coach Tyronn Lue said. “I’m not sure the timetable, though.”

Nicolas Batum Re-Signs With Clippers

AUGUST 13: The Clippers have officially re-signed Batum, the team announced today in a press release.

“Nico is a terrific player, a selfless teammate and a consummate professional, who lifts us in a lot of different ways,” president of basketball operations Lawrence Frank said in a statement. “He fit in perfectly from the beginning, and we’re grateful he’s chosen to return.”


AUGUST 2: Forward Nicolas Batum has agreed to re-sign with the Clippers on a two-year contract, Shams Charania of The Athletic tweets. The contract includes a player option in the second year, Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN tweets.

Los Angeles held Non-Bird rights on Batum, allowing the team to re-sign him for $120% of his minimum salary. By utilizing those rights, per Andrew Greif of The Los Angeles Times (Twitter link), the Clippers still have the $5.9MM taxpayer exception at their disposal.

It’s a coup for the Clippers, who were expected to face plenty of competition for Batum’s services, including from Portland, Golden State, Miami, and Indiana

After getting buried on Charlotte’s bench the previous season, Batum enjoyed a career revival with the Clippers. He averaged 8.1 PPG, 4.7 RPG and 2.2 APG in 67 regular-season games, including 38 starts. He also averaged 8.1 PPG, 5.5 RPG and 2.1 APG in 16 postseason games.

Batum began his career in 2008 with Portland.

Pacific Notes: Kawhi, Metu, Batum, Fitts

The Clippers will have most of their key players from last season coming back in 2021/22, but Kawhi Leonard‘s health remains a major question mark. Leonard, of course, suffered a partially torn ACL in the playoffs this spring, an injury that could force him to miss much (or all) of next season.

As Andrew Greif of the Los Angeles Times writes, it’s been one month since Leonard underwent surgery on his right knee. He’ll need a significant amount of time to rehab the injury, but it’s possible he could be ready to play before the 2022 postseason begins in mid-April.

“In Kawhi’s case it will be a little less than a year, which is very doable,” said Alan Beyer, executive medical director and orthopedic surgeon at Orange County’s Hoag Orthopedic Institute. “No two players are alike, so some would take seven or eight months to come back. With the caliber of these players, I would not rush. But I certainly would give him the full nine to 10 months at least before I’d expect to see him back.”

Leonard recently signed a new four-year deal with the Clippers, cementing his long-term status with the franchise. He averaged 24.8 points, 6.5 rebounds and 1.6 steals in 52 games last season, shooting 51% from the floor.

Here are some other notes from the Pacific:

  • Kings center Chimezie Metu swung at Mavericks two-way player Eugene Omoruyi during the team’s summer league game on Sunday, as relayed by ESPN (video link). Such a play typically warrants a suspension from the NBA. Metu’s frustration stemmed from Omoruyi’s hard foul, one that occurred as Metu was in mid-air. The 24-year-old Metu suffered a broken wrist last season after being fouled in mid-air by Jonas Valanciunas.
  • Nicolas Batum‘s new contract with the Clippers is a two-year, $6.49MM deal, according to Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN (Twitter link). The deal, completed using his Non-Bird rights, includes a player option worth $3.3MM in the second season.
  • The Clippers are adding forward Malik Fitts to their summer league team, according to Law Murray of The Athletic (Twitter link). Fitts signed a 10-day contract with the team back in April.

Southwest Notes: Spurs, Batum, Finley, Kerr, Green

The five-team trade the Spurs are involved in continues a trend of the teamstockpiling draft picks, Tom Orsborn of the San Antonio Express-News notes. The Spurs will gain a 2022 second-round pick along with Chandler Hutchison from the Wizards in the agreed-upon multi-team swap, highlighted by the Lakers’ acquisition of Russell Westbrook. San Antonio is also acquiring three picks – a first-rounder and two second-rounders – in the DeMar DeRozan sign-and-trade with the Bulls.

We have more from the Southwest Division:

  • The Mavericks were among the teams interested in Clippers forward Nicolas Batum before he agreed to re-sign with Los Angeles, Marc Stein of Substack tweets. The Warriors also checked in on Batum before he chose to take a two-year deal with a player option from the Clippers.
  • The Mavericks have officially announced the promotion of Michael Finley to assistant GM/VP of basketball operations, the team’s PR department tweets. Finley will work under new president of basketball operations Nico Harrison in his expanded front office role.
  • Warriors coach Steve Kerr is ecstatic that one of his former assistants, Willie Green, got the Pelicans‘ head coaching job and believes he’ll have little trouble growing into the role, Kerr told William Guillory of The Athletic. “There’s just kind of this quiet dignity and intelligence about him that the players will really appreciate,” Kerr said. “And then I think, like all coaches, he’s going to have to find his voice and find his style. I’m sure he’s going to hire a great staff to help him do that. And he’ll grow into the job, but I think he’ll be fantastic.”

Free Agency Rumors: Batum, Iguodala, Melo, Boban

Clippers forward Nicolas Batum will not be wanting for suitors this offseason after a bounce-back performance with Los Angeles in 2020/21. Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports reports (Twitter link) that, in addition to the Clippers, other playoff-caliber teams are interested in the versatile player’s services, including the Heat, Warriors and Pacers.

After being waived by the Hornets ahead of the 2020/21 season, Batum became a highly valuable 3-and-D addition on the Clippers roster, even moving into the starting lineup as the club’s power forward ahead of the much-pricier Marcus Morris for much of the season, before Morris’ play turned a corner and he eventually reclaimed the gig.

Batum logged 27.4 MPG on a Clippers team that broke through the Western Conference Finals for the first time in its history. He averaged 8.1 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 2.2 APG, 1.0 SPG, and 0.6 BPG. The 32-year-old posted a shooting line of .464/.404/.828.

Here are more free agency rumors from around the NBA:

  • Veteran Trail Blazers forward Carmelo Anthony could reunite with the Knicks this summer, per ESPN’s Jordan Schultz (via Twitter). Anthony, who made six All-Star appearances during his previous stint in New York, averaged 13.4 PPG, 3.1 RPG, and 1.5 APG on .421/.409/.890 shooting splits as a reserve with Portland across 69 games in the 2020/21 season. Schultz notes that Knicks team president Leon Rose has a good rapport with Anthony, having served as the probable Hall-of-Famer’s longtime agent before moving into his current front office role with New York.
  • After Miami opted to decline his $15MM player option for the 2021/22 season, veteran forward Andre Iguodala is now an unrestricted free agent once again and the Warriors are expected to chat with the 37-year-old about a possible reunion, tweets Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press. Jordan Schultz of ESPN reports (Twitter link) that the new-look Lakers are also eyeballing Iguodala as a savvy veteran contributor. Given Iguodala’s advanced age and on-court performance of late, it seems likely he’ll have to settle for significantly less than his $15MM player option for the season.
  • The Mavericks expect to be able to re-sign reserve big man Boban Marjanović this summer, reports Marc Stein (via Twitter). The Mavericks first signed the 7’4″ center in free agency during the 2019 offseason, on a two-year, $7MM deal. The 32-year-old averaged just 8.2 MPG as a backup big with a playoff Dallas team this year, but in that brief time he produced (in a per-minute sense), averaging 4.7 PPG and 3.9 RPG.

Clippers Notes: Beverley, Rondo, Kennard, Batum

Clippers guard Patrick Beverley will face a suspension at the start of next season for shoving Chris Paul from behind in Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals, Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports reports. The incident occurred during the fourth quarter of the Suns’ clinching victory. Beverley has since apologized on Twitter, stating, “@CP3 emotions got the best of me last night gang. My bad wasn’t meant for you. Congrats on making it to the Finals. Best of Luck.”

We have more on the Clippers:

  • With Kawhi Leonard dealing with an unknown knee injury and potentially opting out, and Reggie Jackson and Nicolas Batum headed to unrestricted free agency, the team faces an uncertain future after reaching the conference finals for the first time, Andrew Greif of the Los Angeles Times writes. The expiring contracts of Beverley and Rajon Rondo could be used as trade chips, and the Clips could also explore trade options for Luke Kennard, whose didn’t play up to expectations after signing a four-year extension, Greif adds.
  • Batum isn’t sure what his future holds but he’s grateful to the organization for reviving his career after it went sour in Charlotte, according to Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times. “Now look where I am right now, just incredible. It’s amazing to what happened to me this year,” he said. “I can’t thank enough the Clippers’ organization for giving me a chance to be a basketball player again. I wasn’t sure what I could do this year, and they give me a chance to be a player again.”
  • In case you missed it, Paul George believes the team would have made the Finals if Leonard was healthy. He’s also eager to recruit players for next season. Get the details here.

Clippers Notes: Rivers, George, Batum, Ibaka

This year’s condensed season offered little time to rest between games and was played under the threat of pandemic postponements, but the consensus among players and coaches is that it was much easier than the restart last summer in Orlando, writes Mark Medina of USA Today. Former Clippers coach Doc Rivers called it “1,000 times worse” to be stuck for weeks at the Disney World complex.

“Half the players didn’t want to be there,” said Rivers, whose L.A. team squandered a 3-1 lead in the second round last year. “The bubble almost depended on the teams that committed to being there and teams that didn’t. I had a team that obviously was not happy with being in the bubble.”

Clippers forward Paul George spoke for most of the players when he talked about the difficulties of being confined to a strange environment. Players had to remain on a limited portion of the Disney campus and had little contact with the outside world for fear of bringing COVID-19 into the environment.

“This year has been easier because I have outlets,” George said. “I’m able to live a normal life. I can go home. I can see my family, spend time with my family and interact with people outside of this team. That alone has been a big difference to be back to some normalcy.”

There’s more from Los Angeles:

  • The Clippers are facing a 2-0 series deficit just as they did in the first round, but the Jazz may be tougher to overcome, suggests Mark Medina of USA Today. No team has ever been able to climb out of multiple 0-2 holes in the same postseason, and the top-seeded Jazz are a much deeper team than the Mavericks squad that L.A. defeated in the first round. “They weren’t ranked No. 1 in the West for no reason. This is a tough team. But we’re approaching this the same way Dallas was,” George said. “As good as they’re playing and as tough as this matchup is, we still feel like there’s moments throughout this game and this series that we’re making plays that are self inflicted. It’s a lot of uphill. But we’re optimistic that we can get this under control.”
  • For tonight’s Game 3, the Clippers are reverting to the smaller lineup that was successful against Dallas, tweets Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated. Nicolas Batum was back in the starting five, with Ivica Zubac coming off the bench.
  • In case you missed it, Serge Ibaka will miss the rest of the playoffs after undergoing season-ending surgery on his back.

Nicolas Batum Signs With Clippers

10:08pm: The team officially announced the Batum signing in a press release and the Tucker signing in a separate release.


9:43pm: After clearing waivers following his release by the Hornets, veteran free agent forward Nicolas Batum will sign with the Clippers, Shams Charania of The Athletic tweets.

Batum’s intention to sign with Los Angeles was initially reported by Charania after he was officially waived by Charlotte. The 31-year-old wing was a solid three-and-D contributor in his prime with the Trail Blazers and Hornets, but his production noticeably declined after he signed a five-year, $120MM extension with the Hornets in 2016.

Across his 12 NBA seasons, the 6’9″ swingman holds career averages of 11.6 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 3.8 APG, 0.9 APG, and 0.6 APG in 31.3 MPG. He is a career 35.7% shooter on 4.4 attempts a night from three-point land, and is shooting 84.1% from the charity stripe. Batum was a part-time player for the first time in his career in 2019/20, suiting up for just 22 games with the Hornets.

The Clippers are no doubt hoping Batum can conjure a semblance of this output in a fraction of the minutes for a championship contender led by star swingmen Kawhi Leonard and Paul George.

Batum is set to compete with fellow free agent wing Rayjon Tucker for reserve minutes, as Charania adds in a separate tweet that the Clippers will also sign Tucker. It’s an Exhibit 10 contract for Tucker, per Andrew Greif of The Los Angeles Times (Twitter link).

The 23-year-old shooting guard, who split his college eligibility between Florida Gulf Coast and Little Rock, went undrafted in 2019. He played for the Bucks’ G League affiliate, the Wisconsin Herd, to start the 2019/20 NBA season. He then signed on with the Jazz for the remainder of the season. Between stints with the Herd and Utah’s G League club, the Salt Lake City Stars, Tucker played 19 G League games.

Tucker averaged 23.3 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 2.5 APG, and 0.9 SPG in the G League. He posted a slash line of .472/.361/.713. The 6’5″ wing was awarded December 2019’s G League Player of the Month honors, and netted an Eastern Conference Midseason All-NBA G League selection.

A defensive specialist at the next level, Tucker played 20 regular season games for the Jazz, averaging 8.1 MPG. Earlier this offseason, the Jazz traded Tucker to the Cavaliers, who subsequently waived him.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Free Agent Rumors: Lowry, Caruso, Cavs, Trent, Batum, Bradley

The Pelicans are viewed as the most likely of Kyle Lowry‘s prospective suitors to guarantee a third year in their offer to the veteran point guard, sources tell Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca. However, it’s the Heat that are considered the current frontrunners to land Lowry.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski confirms as much in his latest report, suggesting that the Heat are ready and willing to attach assets to Goran Dragic to entice the Raptors to accept a sign-and-trade offer, with Precious Achiuwa and draft picks among the pieces that could be in play. According to Wojnarowski, the Pelicans and Mavericks – rumored to be two of Lowry’s most aggressive suitors – are beginning to consider other options as they look for a starting point guard.

Here are a few more updates on free agents, with the start of the 2021 free agent period less than 24 hours away:

Hornets Notes: Hayward, Batum, Carey

Hornets head of basketball operations Mitch Kupchak had talked for the better part of the year about not planning to make a splash in free agency. So it came as a bit of a surprise when Charlotte completed the biggest unrestricted free agent contract of the 2020 offseason, signing Gordon Hayward to a four-year, $120MM contract.

Addressing that disconnect during his Tuesday session with reporters, Kupchak explained that he simply wasn’t expecting a player like Hayward to be available this fall.

“I did not think that we would be in a position to pursue a free agent of Gordon’s caliber,” Kupchak said, per Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer.

As for whether Hayward’s injury history made the Hornets nervous about making such a significant investment in the 30-year-old forward, Kupchak downplayed any concerns the team might have had, as Bonnell writes.

“He passed our physical with flying colors,” he said. “He’s a good age for an NBA player and keeps himself in great shape … There’s no reason to believe, knock on wood, that he won’t be healthy here the next four years.”

Here’s more on the Hornets:

  • Speaking today to reporters about his decision to join the Hornets, Hayward said the team’s interest in him back in 2014 was a factor in choosing Charlotte, writes Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today. He also sounded excited about taking on a bigger role than he had in Boston, as the leader of a young Hornets roster. “The think I like to do most is play-make and create for others,” he said. “Obviously in my career, I’ve done the scoring thing as well. I’m versatile. I can just help us try to impact our time with winning as much as possible. The pieces are there in place. Sometimes with a young team you just need to get over that initial hump to get to that next level. I’m excited about that opportunity and that challenge.”
  • Asked today about waiving and stretching Nicolas Batum and his $27MM+ expiring contract, Kupchak explained that it would have cost the Hornets multiple draft picks to dump Batum’s salary in a trade. The team may also have had to take back another (smaller) veteran contract in the deal, Kupchak added (Twitter link via Bonnell).
  • The four-year contract that No. 32 overall pick Vernon Carey Jr. signed with the Hornets will have a first-year salary of $1.35MM, followed by minimum salaries in years two through four, tweets Bobby Marks of ESPN. The final year will be a team option, but it sounds like the first three will be guaranteed.

Hornets To Waive-And-Stretch Nicolas Batum

The Hornets will waive and stretch the final year of Nicolas Batum‘s contract in order to create the cap room necessary to sign Gordon Hayward, reports Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer.

[RELATED: Hornets, Gordon Hayward Agree To Four-Year Deal]

Batum, who will turn 32 next month, is entering the final season of the five-year, $120MM contract he signed back in 2016. His cap hit for 2020/21 is approximately $27.13MM, but the Hornets can stretch that amount across three seasons at $9.04MM annually, opening up more than $18MM in cap room for 2020/21.

That newly-opened amount will be more than enough to complete the Hayward signing, as Charlotte entered the day with about $19MM in space. The team should have some room left over for an additional move or two, though it will now have to deal with $9MM+ in dead money on the cap for 2021/22 and ’22/23 as well.

Batum was excised from the Hornets’ rotation this past season, appearing in just 22 games (23.0 MPG) and playing poorly in his limited time, with 3.6 PPG, 4.5 RPG, and 3.0 APG on .346/.286/.900 shooting.

Although he’s coming off a down year and has long been viewed as an unfavorable asset as a result of his oversized contract, Batum might be an interesting minimum-salary target in free agency once he clears waivers.

Nicolas Batum Exercising Player Option

Hornets forward Nicolas Batum plans to exercise his $27.13MM player option for the 2020/21 season and return to Charlotte, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).

Batum appeared in just 22 games last season and holds career-averages of 11.6 points, 5.2 rebounds and 3.8 assists per contest. The 31-year-old has been with the Hornets since the 2015/16 season, having been acquired in a trade during the summer of 2015. He inked a five-year, $120MM deal with the team in 2016.

Batum’s option decision was one of the most obvious of 2020, as there was no chance of him matching or exceeding his $27MM salary on the open market. He’ll reach free agency in 2021.

Meanwhile, Charlotte has players such as Bismack Biyombo and Willy Hernangomez set to enter unrestricted free agency this fall. The team could extend a qualifying offer to guard Dwayne Bacon to make him a restricted free agent.

The Hornets finished with a 23-42 record this past season and last made the playoffs during the 2015/16 campaign.

Nicolas Batum Apologizes To Hornets

Nicolas Batum isn’t hiding from the fact that he hasn’t lived up to his contract, writes Scott Fowler of The Charlotte Observer.

The five-year, $120MM deal Batum signed in the summer of 2016 remains the largest ever given out by the Hornets. After putting up decent numbers during the past three years, he lost his starting job this season and has been stuck on the end of the bench as Charlotte opted for a youth movement.

“I apologize to the people here,” he said, “because they put so much faith in me. And it didn’t go well… . It didn’t work out. But what do I have to do? Because I’m still here.”

Batum has appeared in 22 games this season, but head coach James Borrego didn’t use him at all in February. The last time he saw the court was in a January 24 game played in his native France.

Fowler points out that Batum remains a supportive member of the team and is serving as a mentor to a roster filled with first- and second-year players. As a veteran, he has interceded with officials on behalf of his teammates and estimates he has saved the Hornets from about a half-dozen technical fouls.

“I don’t want to be selfish,” Batum said. “… I don’t want to be that guy who’s like, ‘OK, let’s go out tonight. Coach sucks. Don’t show up. You shoot 25 times a game; don’t listen to him.’ No. I won’t do that. I don’t need that. They don’t need that.”

At age 31, Batum figures to remain in a teaching role through the end of next season. He has another year left on his contract, and his $27.13MM salary makes him nearly impossible to trade. Although the Hornets appear headed to their fourth straight year out of the playoffs, Batum believes the young core will get there soon.

“This franchise has got a bright future,” he said, “but I don’t think I’ll be part of it.”

Clippers Notes: Rondo, Batum, George, Mann

Ten days after the Clippers acquired him in a trade with the Hawks, Rajon Rondo may make his debut for his new team Sunday afternoon, according to Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN. L.A. could use help in the backcourt as Patrick Beverley continues to deal with a knee issue that has limited him to one brief appearance since March 4.

Rondo has been dealing with an adductor injury and is officially listed as questionable for the Sunday showdown with the Lakers, tweets Andrew Greif of the Los Angeles Times. Since the trade, Rondo has been resting and trying to learn the Clippers’ playbook. The veteran guard was averaging a career-low 14.9 minutes per game with Atlanta.

“Just kind of plugging him in, just seeing what he picks up,” coach Tyronn Lue said. “It’s easy to go through plays in practice, but then you got a game on the fly, it is a little different. And I know how smart he is. Just seeing what he picks up and just seeing what we can incorporate while he is in the game and just try to go from there. It is going to be good to see him get on the floor.”

There’s more on the Clippers:

  • Nicolas Batum was wondering if he still had a future in the NBA after the Hornets benched him last season, but he learned he was still in demand following his release in November, Youngmisuk adds in a separate story. Batum heard from several teams, but the Clippers were the most aggressive, with Lue, owner Steve Ballmer and executive Lawrence Frank all calling to recruit him, along with Paul George and Kawhi Leonard.
  • The toe injury that sidelined George for seven games in February has flared up again, writes Mirjam Swanson of The Orange County Register. George was able to play 32 minutes Thursday against the Nuggets, but he was in pain the entire time. “It’s really no pop on the right foot,” he said. “I can’t really bend my toe and have it flexing all the way on that second toe. It’s just figuring it out. I gotta figure it out. Most importantly, if I can play, and play with minimal pain, that’s what I’m going for. We gotta figure it out though.”
  • Second-year guard Terance Mann has become a reliable scorer lately, which made the Clippers feel comfortable with trading Lou Williams in the Rondo deal, states Shaun Powell of NBA.com.

2021 NBA Offseason In Review: Los Angeles Clippers

Hoops Rumors is breaking down the 2021 offseason for all 30 NBA teams, revisiting the summer’s free agent signings, trades, draft picks, departures, and more. We’ll evaluate each team’s offseason moves, examine what still needs to be done before opening night, and look ahead to what the 2021/22 season holds for all 30 franchises. Today, we’re focusing on the Los Angeles Clippers.


Free agent signings:

Note: Exhibit 9 and 10 deals aren’t included here.

  • Kawhi Leonard: Four years, $176.27MM (maximum salary). Fourth-year player option. Includes 15% trade kicker. Re-signed using Bird rights.
  • Reggie Jackson: Two years, $21.6MM. Includes 15% trade kicker. Re-signed using Early Bird rights.
  • Justise Winslow: Two years, $8MM. Signed using taxpayer mid-level exception.
  • Nicolas Batum: Two years, $6.5MM. Re-signed using Non-Bird rights.
  • Amir Coffey: Two-way contract.

Trades:

  • Acquired the draft rights to Jason Preston (No. 33 pick) from the Magic in exchange for the Pistons’ 2026 second-round pick and cash.
  • Acquired the draft rights to Keon Johnson (No. 21 pick) from the Knicks in exchange for the draft rights to Quentin Grimes (No. 25 pick) and the Pistons’ 2024 second-round pick.
  • Acquired the draft rights to Brandon Boston Jr. (No. 51 pick) from the Pelicans in exchange for the Kings’ 2022 second-round pick (top-54 protected) and cash ($2.5MM).
  • Acquired Eric Bledsoe from the Pelicans in exchange for Patrick Beverley, Rajon Rondo, and Daniel Oturu.

Draft picks:

  • 1-21: Keon Johnson
    • Signed to rookie scale contract (four years, $12,517,291).
  • 2-33: Jason Preston
    • Signed to three-year, $4.46MM contract. Third year non-guaranteed. Signed using taxpayer mid-level exception.
  • 2-51: Brandon Boston Jr.
    • Signed to three-year, minimum-salary contract. Third year non-guaranteed. Signed using taxpayer mid-level exception.

Contract extensions:

  • Terance Mann: Two years, $22MM. Team option for 2022/23 ($1,930,681) exercised as part of agreement. Extension begins in 2023/24.

Departing players:

Other offseason news:

  • Kawhi Leonard continues to recover from right ACL surgery and isn’t expected to return until at least the spring.
  • Jason Preston underwent right foot surgery and is expected to miss a significant portion of the season.
  • Hired Brian Shaw and Jay Larranaga as assistant coaches; lost assistant coaches Kenny Atkinson and Roy Rogers.
  • Broke ground on new Inglewood arena, which will be named Intuit Dome and is on track to open in 2024.

Salary cap situation:

  • Remained over the cap and above the tax line.
  • Carrying approximately $166.8MM in salary.
  • Used full taxpayer mid-level exception ($5.89MM) to sign Justise Winslow, Jason Preston, and Brandon Boston Jr.
  • Two traded player exceptions available, including one worth $8.25MM.

Lingering preseason issues:

  • The Clippers have 14 players on guaranteed contracts. If the team carries a 15th man to start the season, it will come down to Harry Giles vs. Isaiah Hartenstein.

The Clippers’ offseason:

Everything was in place for the Clippers to finally get over the hump and make the NBA Finals last season. It all fell apart when Kawhi Leonard suffered a partial tear of the ACL in his right knee during the Western Conference Semifinals.

Facing an equally banged-up Utah team, the Clippers overcame Leonard’s absence to make the conference finals, but they couldn’t get past Chris Paul and his youthful Phoenix teammates in the next round. Now, Leonard’s injury lingers into this season.

It’s uncertain whether he’ll play at all after undergoing surgery in July but that didn’t discourage the franchise from re-signing him to a maximum-salary four-year deal. The fact that Leonard chose a longer contract with no opt-out until the final season gives the front office incentive to continue building around him and Paul George, who’s locked in until at least 2024.

Given those parameters, plus tempered expectations due to Leonard’s surgery, the front office didn’t do anything drastic this offseason. The team brought back Reggie Jackson, who had a strong postseason, to run the first unit, as well as Nicolas Batum, who revived his career last season after his playing time evaporated in Charlotte.

The Clippers’ other notable additions were basically low-risk flyers on two other players who, like Jackson and Batum last season, will try to regain their old form. Eric Bledsoe will share point guard duties with Jackson after a disappointing one-year stint with the Pelicans in which he struggled to blend in with the team’s young core.

If his second go-around with the franchise doesn’t go well, the Clippers would only be on the hook for $3.9MM of Bledsoe’s $19.375MM salary for next season if they waive him next summer. In fact, it’s likely they’ll do so even if Bledsoe plays more efficiently.

Justise Winslow‘s career has been sidetracked by injuries. He struggled mightily with the Grizzlies in a 26-game stint last season after returning from a long-term hip ailment. Ideally, Winslow will give the second unit a boost with his versatility.

Keon Johnson isn’t expected to get much playing time at the NBA level in his rookie year and second-rounder Jason Preston recently underwent foot surgery which will likely sideline him for most or all of this season.


The Clippers’ upcoming season:

George says he’s ready to carry the load in all facets — scoring, defending, playmaking. He’ll need to have an MVP-caliber campaign to keep the Clippers in the postseason picture. The club really doesn’t have a lot of offensive answers if George isn’t posting 30 points a game.

Jackson, Batum and Marcus Morris are solid veterans but it’s unrealistic to think they can keep the team in contention if George has to miss significant time. Terance Mann‘s 39-point eruption in Game 6 of the conference semis showed that he can be a significant contributor if the opportunity strikes. Mann should see his playing time increase, and the coaching staff will hope to get more out of Luke Kennard, who averaged just 8.3 PPG in his first year with the club despite shooting 44.6% from deep.

It would also be a major boost if Serge Ibaka can overcome his back issues and provide steady contributions at both ends of the floor.

A best-case scenario would be for the Clippers to hang around long enough for Leonard to get back in the lineup, which would make them a dangerous playoff team. More likely, it will have to fight tooth and nail just to make the postseason, and could face an early-round exit.


Salary information from Basketball Insiders and Spotrac was used in the creation of this post. Luke Adams contributed to this post.

Hornets Notes: Batum, Ball, Graham, Turner, Washington

Nicolas Batum found out the Hornets had released him in November on social media, according to Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer. “I found out on Twitter, like everybody else,” Batum said. The veteran forward was let go to clear cap space for Gordon Hayward. Charlotte elected to use the stretch provision, spreading Batum’s $27.1MM cap hit over three seasons. The Hornets declined to comment on how they handled Batum’s departure.

We have more on the Hornets:

  • LaMelo Ball played 57 percent of the season before he injured his wrist, so he’s still likely to win the Rookie of the Year award, Sam Vecenie of The Athletic writes. Only strong finishes by either Anthony Edwards or Tyrese Haliburton would jeopardize his hold on the award.
  • The Hornets have a tricky decision on Devonte’ Graham in the aftermath of Ball’s injury, but they would still be wise to deal the restricted free agent, Vecenie opines in the same piece. Graham will never have more value than he has now, due to his $1.6MM salary, which makes him an option for any team interested in him. He could be an impact player for a contender, which would gain control over him this summer due to his RFA status.
  • Charlotte has long been interested in the Pacers’ Myles Turner and Indiana asked for P.J. Washington as part of a potential package prior to the season, J. Michael of the Indianapolis Star tweets.
  • With an open roster spot and up to $4.1MM in cap space, GM Mitch Kupchak needs to add a big man to the roster, Bonnell tweets. Charlotte has left a roster spot open throughout the season.

Pacific Notes: James, Lakers, Batum, Warriors

How much longer does LeBron James want to keep playing? Long enough to make history by playing with his son Bronny, Mark Medina of USA Today tweets. “That’s definitely one of my goals, but that’s a long-term goal,” The Lakers‘ star said. “My son right now is in high school and enjoying what being a teenager is all about. But that would be pretty cool to go on my resume.” Bronny, 16, attends Sierra Canyon in Chatsworth, Calif. and recently had surgery to repair torn meniscus.

We have more from the Pacific Division:

  • The Lakers are unlikely to find help via a trade due to salary-cap restrictions and the fact that their best trade pieces are rotation players, Jovan Buha of The Athletic opines. The team could use help at backup center, as well as a large wing with 3-point ability. Their best place to find that would be in the buyout market, with Andre Drummond, P.J. Tucker and Trevor Ariza as possibilities. The Lakers’ reported interest in Drummond was already noted here.
  • Nicolas Batum was looking to redeem himself after his career went sour in Charlotte. The Clippers entered the season seeking redemption after an abrupt dismissal from the postseason. That’s one of the reasons Batum decided to sign with the team, as Andrew Greif of the Los Angeles Times details. Batum is averaging 9.0 PPG, 4.8 RPG and 2.4 APG in 35 starts this season. He’s on a one-year, veteran’s minimum deal and will re-enter the free agent market this summer.
  • The Warriors would be better off building toward next season rather than making moves to collect more victories this season, Tim Kawakami of The Athletic argues. There’s no reason to use their $9.2MM disabled player exception, especially with the luxury-tax implications it would bring. The better course of action would to give lottery pick James Wiseman ample playing time and wait for the loaded draft.

California Notes: Kawhi, Matthews, Batum, Wiggins

Clippers All-Star wing Kawhi Leonard is making a concerted effort to be a more vocal leader this season, as Mirjam Swanson of the Orange County Register details. His new teammate Serge Ibaka, who won a title with Leonard in 2019 when both were with the Raptors, encouraged Leonard to do this when he arrived to LA this season.

“Leaders need not only to come on the court and score 30 points. You have to show the team, your teammates, like you’re willing to give everything for them,” Ibaka said of the All-NBA Clippers forward. “And so far, he’s been doing a great job of that. He’s been communicating with everybody… this is something really new I see from Kawhi.”

There’s more out of California:

  • New Lakers wing Wesley Matthews, a longtime starter in the NBA, is adjusting to his new role coming off the bench, according to Kyle Goon of the Orange County Register. “We don’t worry about Wes,” head coach Frank Vogel said. “He’s a knockdown shooter and a great defender. Just excited that he’s in a Lakers uniform and what kind of things he’s gonna give us throughout the year.”
  • With newly-extended Clippers forward Marcus Morris out of commission due to a sore right knee, veteran offseason addition Nicolas Batum has comfortably slid into his starting power forward role, per Mirjam Swanson of the Orange County Register. Batum is averaging 27.5 MPG, 6.8 PPG, 6.8 RPG and 3.5 APG for Los Angeles.
  • Warriors swingman Andrew Wiggins has vastly improved his pick-and-roll output this season, writes Zach Harper of The Athletic. He is producing 116.7 points per 100 possessions as a pick-and-roll scorer thus far in 2020/21.
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