Nicolas Batum rebounded nicely in 2015-16 after a down season, helping guide the Hornets to the playoffs. The Frenchman averaged nearly 15 points and six assists for Steve Clifford’s club this season, and he started all seventy regular season games he played in.
Batum is an unrestricted free agent, though, and you can bet that there will be plenty of teams willing to offer him a hefty sum for his services this offseason.
Despite their first round exit, the Hornets have the potential to build something special for the future, and the 27-year-old could be a big part of that core if they are able to re-sign him. Based on his comments to The Charlotte Observer after the Hornets’ Game 7 defeat against Miami, it certainly appears as though the eight-year veteran is more than willing to stay put if Charlotte gives him a competitive offer.
“We should be playing tomorrow (in the Eastern Conference semifinals) and we’re pretty mad about that. So this is unfinished business.”
Batum also seemed pleased with the role he had as a primary offensive weapon.
“When I came here they let me know they wanted me to be one of the (top) two options with Kemba. I liked that. I like that they trusted me. It was a pretty cool year. First time I got to play like I want to in eight years in the NBA.”
The only issue for Michael Jordan and Hornets GM Rich Cho is that Batum is not the only player from their rotation entering free agency. In addition to Batum, Al Jefferson, Courtney Lee, and Marvin Williams are set to hit the market, and Jeremy Lin will, too, if he decides to opt-out.
All of those players played important roles in getting the Hornets into the postseason, but one would assume Batum would still be the team’s first priority. If Charlotte is able to get Batum back in Buzz City with a long-term deal, they could very well be a perennial playoff team in the Eastern Conference for years to come.
(Via: The Charlotte Observer)