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Report: Nicolas Batum opting out of Clippers contract

Clippers forward Nicolas Batum

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - FEBRUARY 14: Nicolas Batum #33 of the Los Angeles Clippers reacts to a play during the second quarter against the Golden State Warriors at Crypto.com Arena on February 14, 2022 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)

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The Clippers re-signed Nicolas Batum last year to a relatively cheap 1+1 Non-Bird Exception contract that looked designed to allow him to get a big raise once the team held his Early Bird Rights this offseason.

Batum is taking the next step in that apparent plan by declining his $3,328,530 player option for next season.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

The Clippers can re-sign Batum for the Early Bird Exception (projected to be worth $50 million over four years). That deal projects to have an $11 million starting salary – obviously way more than Batum’s player option salary – plus a multi-year guarantee for the 33-year-old.

Though that’d raise L.A.'s luxury-tax bill even higher, Clippers owner Steve Ballmer has proven his willingness to spend to maximize the roster. And Batum maximizes the roster.

Batum is a versatile frontcourt player – someone who can defend multiple positions and even play small-ball center. He fits nicely with Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, both switching defensively and keeping the ball moving and spotting up to create space offensively.