Nicolas Batum has been one of the most underrated stories in basketball since coming to the LA Clippers. With the future of his career in question, as he was released by the Charlotte Hornets in 2020 without any prior notice, Batum was unsure if any other teams would want him. The Clippers certainly did, and the pairing has been perfect.
Since coming to the Clippers, Batum is shooting 40.2% from deep, while thriving as a versatile defender and savvy playmaker. His style of play has perfectly complimented a Clippers team that is built around wing depth, and his overall persona has quickly made him a favorite amongst the fanbase. Frequently interacting with fans before and after games, Batum has embraced his time with the Clippers, and it stems from a true appreciate for the organization.
One of the first defining moments that solidified both Batum's appreciation for the Clippers, and also the team's good fortune to have a player like him, was when the veteran forward suited up for the team on the same day his daughter was born. After witnessing her birth just three hours prior to tip-off, Batum played against the OKC Thunder that same night.
"We would've respected him either way," Paul George said of Batum's decision to play. "It shows he's committed. It shows how much he loves the basketball game," Kawhi Leonard added. Ty Lue echoed the same sentiments, saying how much Batum's dedication meant to the team.
The Clippers won that game against OKC, and Batum went a perfect 4/4 from deep. He later said, "[The Clippers] gave me another chance in this league to compete and be a basketball player, so I think that's kind of my way to say thank you. I'm gonna do whatever it takes to win games and do something special. Even on the best day of my life."
Nicolas Batum has been open about the uncertainty he felt after being released by the Charlotte Hornets, and going from that uncertainty to a key role player on a team with championship aspirations is not something he overlooks. In Batum's own words, Ty Lue and the Clippers saved his career.
Batum was asked on a recent stream which team he wants to finish his career with, and said in French, "Ty Lue saved my life, so I'll stay with T-Lue unless they kick me out. He saved my career."
Nicolas Batum has a player option this summer, and while it is unclear what the exact logistics of a return to the Clippers will look like, he has made it known that he wants to finish his career with Ty Lue and the LA Clippers. This is fantastic news for both the team and their fanbase, as Batum is certainly expected to be pursued by several other contenders this summer.
With injuries holding the Clippers back from their ultimate goal the last two seasons, the team still has aspirations of hoisting their first championship trophy in franchise history. Retaining Nicolas Batum is an essential element to that pursuit, as it ensures that a team-first leader will continue to make his positive impact in the same jersey he revived his career in.