Storyline: Nicolas Batum Free Agency

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Charlotte Hornets General Manager Rich Cho announced today that the team has re-signed guard/forward Nicolas Batum to a multi-year deal. Per team policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed. “Ensuring that Nic remained in Charlotte was a top priority for us this offseason and we are thrilled that he has re-signed with us,” Cho said. “Nic brings versatility, skill and playmaking to our roster that complements all of our players and played a significant role in our playoff berth in 2015-16. We are excited to continue to build on what we’ve accomplished with Nic as a Hornet.”

Batum’s agent had previously indicated that his client, a free agent who just had a terrific first season with the Charlotte Hornets, would be in the United States resolving his NBA future and that the paperwork would not be finalized in time for him to play. However, it is understood that the French player and the Hornets will quickly agree terms on a new deal and that could could give France enough time to obtain insurance for Batum and allow him to take part in some of the OQT games.

Coach Steve Clifford said Monday he’d prefer to coach the same group again, but acknowledged it might be difficult to re-sign everyone given the NBA salary cap. Much of the Hornets future could be predicated on what happens with unrestricted free agent Nicolas Batum, whom Clifford acknowledged will be the team’s No. 1 priority in free agency. Batum averaged a career-high 14.9 points along with 6.1 rebounds and 5.8 assists per game for the Hornets during the regular season, although his production was limited in the postseason due to a foot injury. The Hornets lost in seven games to the Miami Heat on Sunday.

Interestingly, Batum says that the exciting part about free agency isn’t the options or the chance to improve his net worth, but how free agency acts as kind of an evaluation tool for your worth in the league. “Free agency is always exciting for an NBA player’s career,” Batum says, “and you can see where you are, and where you stand among the other players. It’s an opportunity to judge yourself against the other players, and what you’re worth in this league.”

“By signing Kemba and MKG to extensions, re-signing the coach, that shows that we’re not just building something for this year and next year,” Batum said. “No, we’re looking long-term with this group of guys. That’s good for the fan base, the players, everybody. You can’t just do something like this for one year. It takes time. It’s a process, but this style of things is good. We’re young, we’re talented, we like the coach. Hopefully we can keep this same group of guys for a couple years.”
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February 22, 2018 | 3:33 pm EST Update
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February 22, 2018 | 3:28 pm EST Update
Hours before he’d turn back the clock with a nod to Vince Carter that wound up winning him the Verizon Slam Dunk contest, Donovan Mitchell took another look into the past, thinking back on his earliest NBA memory, the first time the league he’d one day join actually became real to him. “Man, that’s a tough one,” the Utah Jazz rookie told Yahoo Sports during Saturday’s media session. “The first one that comes to mind, I would say, is probably ‘The Decision’, with LeBron.” Makes sense. Mitchell was 13 years old when LeBron James went on ESPN to tell Jim Gray that he’d chosen to leave the Cleveland Cavaliers and join the Miami Heat in free agency. It was a huge deal — “That really changed the league, from that point on,” Mitchell said — that had nearly 10 million sets of eyeballs glued to television sets all over the United States.
“I was there, when he had The Decision,” Mitchell explained. “So that would probably be the biggest one. It was in Greenwich, Conn., and I went to school in Greenwich [at Greenwich Country Day School],” he said. “So, as a big LeBron fan in the sixth grade, I forced my mom to let me go. I wanted him to go to Miami. I wanted him to get his first ring.” Young Donovan was glad to see one of his favorite players chart a course for a more successful future. Not everybody at the Greenwich Boys & Girls Club shared his enthusiasm. “The people there who were Knicks fans … they weren’t too happy about it,” Mitchell said. “I almost got hit in the head with a Snapple bottle because they were just throwing stuff around outside. It was cool. I was just celebrating, so it was pretty cool.”
One popular touchstone for the 19-to-22-year-old cohort? The legendary dunker who inspired Mitchell’s final-round throwdown on Saturday night. “I mean, I was always into the game — I didn’t have TV or cable or Internet, so I didn’t really watch anybody for a while,” said Denver Nuggets guard Jamal Murray, who grew up in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada. “But watching Vince Carter in the Dunk Contest, and watching him play, he was my favorite player.” “You know, I watched Vince Carter,” added Murray’s countryman and Memphis Grizzlies guard Dillon Brooks, from Mississauga, Ontario. “With the lobs, he just had Toronto … everybody was wearing a purple Toronto jersey. He just made me want to play basketball, and want to dunk, and want to be a part of all that.”