Nicolas Batum

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.

Warriors Notes: Offseason Overview, MLE, Trades, Team Needs

The Warriors’ offseason, outside of drafting Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody in the lottery, may not have been what fans have imagined as the team attempts to regain championship contender status, but it’s not for lack of trying, writes Tim Kawakami of The Athletic.

After trying and failing to attract veterans like Nicolas Batum and Patty Mills, the Warriors chose to be judicious with their use of their taxpayer mid-level exception. According to ESPN’s Bobby Marks, using the exception would end up costing the team an extra $41MM, given its tax situation. In that scenario, Golden State’s payroll and tax bill combined would come out to over $400MM. Instead, the team will rely on jumps in responsibility from players like Jordan Poole and Juan Toscano-Anderson.

Kawakami also writes that the team is unlikely to package Moody and Kuminga in a trade at this point in time.

We have more news from the Warriors:

  • Golden State isn’t actively engaged on any trades at the moment, team president Bob Myers said (Twitter link via Anthony Slater of The Athletic). According to Myers, trade talks are “dormant at this moment in time,” and the league seems to be “on pause” on the trade front.
  • When asked about if the team is done adding veteran free agents, Myers replied, “I think we still need some kind of ballhandling guard. We’re a little thin there” (Twitter link via Slater). While the list of guards left on the market is thin, there are still some interesting options to chose from.
  • Despite being turned down by several targets while trying to use their taxpayer MLE, the Warriors still may utilize it, with the buyout market being a likely target for such a deal, Myers said (Twitter link via Nick Friedell of ESPN).

Blazers Notes: Lillard, Free Agency, Roster, McCollum

Asked on Friday in Tokyo about the Trail Blazers‘ moves in free agency, star point guard Damian Lillard suggested that the team missed out on some of its top targets, as Joe Vardon of The Athletic relays.

“You never know where guys are going to end up and why they go there. You just try to have conversations and convince guys to be a part of our team,” Lillard said. “And obviously, this go around, we weren’t able to go out there and just get some of the guys that we would have liked.

“(So) you go down the list and you go through the guys that are out there that you like who haven’t committed to a team or were a part of your plans in free agency and you get the ones that want to be a part of what you’re doing. And I think that’s what we did.”

The Trail Blazers’ free agent additions include Cody Zeller, Tony Snell, and Ben McLemore. According to Jason Quick of The Athletic, the team also had interest in Nicolas Batum, and made an effort to lure Kelly Oubre to Portland with the taxpayer mid-level exception. Oubre ended up elsewhere even though Damian Lillard made a pitch to him at the end of the regular season.

“It wasn’t anything deep other than ‘Would he be open to it?’ and he said he was,” Lillard told Quick. “I liked Oubre as a complement to other guys I thought we would be able to get. We didn’t get them.”

As Quick outlines, the Blazers’ “real” offseason will begin when Lillard finishes his Olympics run and returns to Portland to evaluate the roster and assess his options. There are three roads the rest of the Blazers’ summer could take, in Quick’s view: Portland convinces Lillard that running it back and being patient is the right approach; the team makes a major trade that changes Lillard’s view of the Blazers’ trajectory; or the All-NBA guard asks to be traded.

Here’s more on the Blazers:

  • Quick confirms that the deals Zeller, McLemore, and Snell are signing are all worth the veteran’s minimum. The Blazers still have the taxpayer mid-level exception available, but aren’t aggressively pursuing any players left on the market and will likely hang onto that exception for now, Quick adds.
  • The Blazers have 13 players projected for the regular season roster for now. They plan to enter the season with 14, but they’re keeping that 14th spot open for now to maintain flexibility, according to Quick, who notes that the spot may be useful for a trade in which Portland takes back more players than it sends out.
  • While CJ McCollum is perhaps the most obvious trade candidate on the Blazers’ roster, it doesn’t sound like he’s being actively shopped, says Quick. Quick isn’t sure whether other teams simply don’t value McCollum like the Blazers do, but says the club won’t move him just to shake up the roster — a deal would have to improve the roster. So far, no opportunities fit that bill.

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.”

Pacific Notes: DeRozan, Clippers, Curry, Vogel

About an hour before word broke on Tuesday that DeMar DeRozan had agreed to join the Bulls via sign-and-trade, Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports reported that DeRozan intended to meet with the Clippers. So did that meeting actually happen before DeRozan reached a deal with Chicago? Haynes shared some details in the latest episode of his Posted Up with Chris Haynes podcast.

“The Clippers’ brass were on their way to DeMar’s house,” Haynes said. “Things got a little bit more interesting with the Bulls, it looked like a deal was going to get done with Chicago, and DeMar DeRozan’s agent Aaron Goodwin called the Clippers out of courtesy and was like, ‘You know what, let’s not waste anybody’s time. Out of respect to you guys, let’s cancel this meeting. (DeRozan)’s going to go elsewhere.'”

Haynes added that the Clippers were going to have to do “a ton of work” on their roster to be able to make DeRozan a competitive offer, suggesting that the veteran wing – who received an $85MM commitment from Chicago – wouldn’t have been willing to settle for the taxpayer mid-level exception ($5.9MM), which was all L.A. realistically had at its disposal.

“DeMar DeRozan was not going to any team and taking the mid-level. He wasn’t,” Haynes said. “Not the full mid-level, not the taxpayer mid-level. He wasn’t having it.”

Here are a few more updates from around the Pacific:

  • Speaking to Marcus Thompson II of The Athletic after news of his new $215MM extension with the Warriors broke, Stephen Curry said he loves the players Golden State drafted last Thursday and was happy to hear the team was pursuing veteran free agents this week, even if top targets like Patty Mills and Nicolas Batum are headed elsewhere. “I would be disappointed if there was ever a vibe that you’re complacent or that you’re not proactive and looking to always get better,” Curry said. “So if you’re telling me we’re trying to go after Batum, we’re trying to go after Patty, and things didn’t line up like that, then that’s just how the league works. But if there’s ever a situation where you don’t feel that commitment from upstairs, then we have issues. I haven’t felt that this summer.”
  • Thompson adds in the same story that the fourth year on Curry’s extension was a “minor sticking point,” given its unprecedented cap hit, but the Warriors ultimately relented. Curry, who will turn 38 during the 2025/26 season, will earn a staggering $59.6MM that year.
  • Now that the Lakers have nearly finished filling out their roster with a handful of free agent commitments, the next big question for the franchise to answer is Frank Vogel‘s status, writes Bill Oram of The Athletic. Vogel is a candidate for an extension, since he’s entering the final year of his contract as the team’s head coach.

And-Ones: Bates, Olympics, Free Agents, VanDeWeghe

Emoni Bates, who is considered the best high school prospect in the country, will reclassify into the Class of 2021  but still won’t be eligible for the NBA draft until 2023, writes Jeff Borzello of ESPN.

A 6’9″ small forward from Ypsilanti, Michigan, Bates committed to Michigan State last summer, but reconsidered in April. The Spartans are still among the options he is considering, along with Oregon, Memphis and the G League. Wherever Bates goes, he may stay for two years.

NBA draft rules require players to be a year removed from their high school graduating class and turn 19 in that calendar year. Bates’ 19th birthday isn’t until January of 2023.

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • Tuesday’s losses by Argentina and Spain probably ended the long Olympic careers of Luis Scola, Marc Gasol and Pau Gasol, notes Brian Mahoney of The Associated Press. All three players had success in the NBA, but they’re equally famous throughout the world for what they accomplished in international competitions. “I’m 41,” said Scola, who won an Olympic gold medal in 2004 and a bronze in 2008. “I don’t see that many people playing that are my age.”
  • French teammates Evan Fournier and Nicolas Batum were both in Tokyo when their contract agreements were being finalized, writes Joe Vardon of The Athletic. They are among a handful of players who are having the unprecedented experience of focusing on the Olympics and NBA free agency at the same time. “This morning I woke up at 3:30, I called my agent, like, ‘You gotta get a deal done right now so I can move on from it,’” said Batum, who got a new two-year contract from the Clippers.
  • Long-time NBA league office executive VP of basketball operations Kiki VanDeWeghe has moved into a new role as special advisor, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic.

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.

Mannix’s Latest: Smart, Ball, Blazers, Simmons, Oladipo, Z. Collins

Celtics guard Marcus Smart is extension-eligible this offseason, but president of basketball operations Brad Stevens – who has coached Smart for the last several seasons – has been frustrated by his “unpredictable play,” sources tell Chris Mannix of SI.com.

Two people familiar with the Celtics’ thinking tell Mannix that Smart appears more likely to be traded than extended before the start of the 2021/22 season. When Boston shopped Smart last season, the team sought multiple first-round picks, but one Eastern Conference executive who spoke to Mannix suggests the guard’s value is more along the lines of one first-rounder and possibly a rotational player.

Here’s more from Mannix:

  • Although re-signing Lonzo Ball doesn’t seem to be the Pelicans‘ top priority in free agency, several rival executives expect New Orleans to match any offer Ball receives if the club strikes out on its top free agent point guard targets, writes Mannix. That would allow the Pels to avoid losing Ball for nothing and would create the option of trading him down the road.
  • The Trail Blazers haven’t given any indications at this point that they intend to deal Damian Lillard or CJ McCollum, according to Mannix, who says forward Nicolas Batum is among the free agents on Portland’s radar.
  • The Sixers‘ asking price for Ben Simmons remains high. “Forget a Harden haul,” one exec in contact with the 76ers said to Mannix. “They want what Boston got for KG and Pierce.”
  • Mannix adds the Mavericks to the list of teams that are expected to show interest in point guard Dennis Schröder.
  • Teams are “increasingly wary” of Victor Oladipo‘s long-term health and multiple executives believe the two-time All-Star may go unsigned for a few months while he gets healthy following his latest quad tendon surgery, says Mannix.
  • Mannix believes the Thunder could be in the mix for Zach Collins, observing that the big man is the kind of low-risk/high-reward player that Sam Presti loves.

Free Agent Rumors: Dinwiddie, Ball, DeRozan, Pistons, Clippers

There are conflicting rumors on the possibility of the Wizards acquiring Spencer Dinwiddie via sign-and-trade, according to John Hollinger of The Athletic, who says that one source described that scenario as “pure vapor,” while another insisted that it’s real if the Nets can dump DeAndre Jordan‘s contract in the process.

As Hollinger points out, if the Wizards expand their Russell Westbrook trade with the Lakers to include Brooklyn, they could theoretically flip Kyle Kuzma to the Nets and acquire Dinwiddie via sign-and-trade while also taking on Jordan’s contract.

However, there are other scenarios in play for both Dinwiddie and the Wizards. Both Hollinger and Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report suggest that the idea of the Thunder signing Dinwiddie for a deal in the two-year, $40MM range has been floating around the league, and Fischer reiterates that Dinwiddie is a viable Plan B for the Pelicans if they miss out on Kyle Lowry.

Meanwhile, both Hollinger and Fischer say the Wizards are also believed to have interest in point guard Alex Caruso, whose market could be in the neighborhood of the full mid-level exception. Hollinger adds that there has been “some hum” about the possibility of Washington having interest in Pacers guard Malcolm Brogdon.

Here are a few more rumors on some of this year’s top free agents:

  • Hollinger and Fischer identify the Bulls as the most likely team to sign Lonzo Ball to an offer sheet, likely in the four-year, $80-84MM range. However, Chicago would have to dump some salary to make room for such an offer sheet, and it’s unclear if the team is prepared to make those moves without being certain the Pelicans won’t match the offer, notes Hollinger.
  • The Celtics continue be mentioned as a possible Ball suitor, per Fischer and Sam Amick of The Atheltic. Amick also names the Mavericks as a possibility for Ball, while Hollinger dubs the Pacers a “dark horse” in the Ball sweepstakes, suggesting that a deal sending Malcolm Brogdon to the Pelicans could tempt New Orleans. Finally, Hollinger mentions an intriguing double sign-and-trade possibility that would send Lonzo to the Hornets to team up with his brother LaMelo Ball, with Devonte’ Graham going to the Pelicans.
    • Note: Hollinger has since amended this last item, suggesting that Lonzo and Graham could be involved in a double-sign-and-trade, but that Ball would likely be rerouted to a team besides Charlotte in that scenario.
  • The idea of DeMar DeRozan signing with the Heat for their mid-level exception has been a hot rumor lately, according to Hollinger. However, Fischer says DeRozan is also said to have interest from the Knicks, Pistons, and Mavericks, while Amick indicates a return to the Spurs remains “very possible.”
  • According to both Hollinger and Fischer, Kelly Olynyk has been increasingly mentioned as a target for the Pistons, who also may re-sign Cory Joseph at a lesser rate after waiving him over the weekend.
  • Outside of bringing back Kawhi Leonard, the Clippers‘ top priorities in free agency are re-signing Reggie Jackson and Nicolas Batum, sources tell Amick.

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: