Charlotte Hornets

Free-agency isn’t weighing on Charlotte Hornets forward Nic Batum’s mind

Charlotte Hornets small forward Nicolas Batum says summer free-agency isn’t on his mind.
Charlotte Hornets small forward Nicolas Batum says summer free-agency isn’t on his mind. AP

In July, Charlotte Hornets small forward Nic Batum figures to be among the more attractive unrestricted free agents hitting the NBA market.

His free-agency will coincide with a major spike in the salary cap, reflective of lucrative new national television deals.

Must be on his mind, right? Not really.

“I’ve been around teams where people think about their contract and their personal situation. I can’t understand that,” Batum said after practice Thursday. “With this team, we know if we do great as a team, if we all do our jobs, everything will work out.”

Clearly, Nic Batum is headed for a significant payday down the road. And he’s treating it that way – down the road.

Batum is the most prominent of a handful of impending free agents on this roster. Marvin Williams, Courtney Lee and Al Jefferson also have expiring contracts and Jeremy Lin can opt out of his deal.

Batum could be worthy of a maximum-value type of deal following a season in which he averages 15.3 points, 6.3 rebounds and 5.8 assists. The Hornets acquired him from the Portland Trail Blazers to play a major role facilitating the offense, and he has delivered.

“On the court he’s such a great player – his playmaking ability, his leadership ability, he can score the basketball. And it’s not just at the offensive end,” Williams described of Batum’s impact. “He keeps us organized defensively and can guard so many different positions.

(W)e’ve got to keep working and getting better because the playoffs are a totally different story.

Hornets small forward Nic Batum

“And he’s been a leader in the locker room all year long.”

So, clearly, Batum is headed for a significant payday down the road. And he’s treating it that way – down the road.

“If I think about it too much it will mess up my game,” Batum said. “If you do your job, things will work out. Just play your game and things will happen.”

Batum’s focus is on the Hornets’ prospects in the playoffs. He appreciates how well the team has played since the All-Star break. But as someone with considerable playoff experience, he knows the challenge ahead.

“We’re playing so great, but we can’t relax,” Batum said. “We’re going to clinch a playoff spot pretty soon, but we’ve got to keep working and getting better because the playoffs are a totally different story.”

Batum is coming off his second triple-double this season. He was asked Thursday whether he might duplicate that feat Friday in a rematch with the Philadelphia 76ers.

Batum replied that’s not entirely up to him.

“The points and rebounds, I can get that. But the assists are not on me; guys have to make shots,” Batum said.

“When I was younger, trying to get my first, I would think about it and it would take energy from the game. Now I don’t think about it.”

Bonnell: 704-358-5129; Twitter: @rick_bonnell

 
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