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#pounditMonday, March 8, 2021

Nicolas Batum hilariously shoots down Raptors rumors on Twitter


Charlotte Hornets swingman Nicolas Batum has yet to play in a single game for his new team and already rumors of his departure are running rampant.

Batum, who was acquired from the Portland Trail Blazers in late June in exchange for Gerald Henderson and Noah Vonleh, is widely suggested to have interest in joining the Toronto Raptors when he becomes an unrestricted free agent next summer. This per Grantland’s Zach Lowe, who published a long-form piece about the Hornets on Tuesday.

Batum is an impending unrestricted free agent on a borderline playoff team, diving into an unprecedented cap frenzy in which two-dozen suitors could offer $20 million per season. Batum’s people have already made noise about how much Batum would like to play in Toronto, a city that appeals to his international roots, per several league sources. He is a flight risk, even though both Cho and Chad Buchanan, the team’s assistant GM, know Batum well from their days in Portland.

Apparently, this is news to Batum who took to Twitter hours later to refute the rumors in comical fashion.

Make no mistake: Batum is fully focused on the Charlotte Hornets, and the Charlotte Hornets alone right now.

The 26-year-old should bring a lot to the table for a young Charlotte team next season. His “do-it-all” arsenal will fit like a glove in Coach Steve Clifford’s growing culture of defensive fundamentals and ball movement. Batum will provide the team with a secondary creator behind Kemba Walker and another perimeter stopper defensively next to Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. He’ll also offer increased spacing and even small-ball 4 capabilities to a Hornets squad that found the floor horribly cramped last season. It will be exciting for Batum as he steps into a bigger offensive role than the scraps he was left to fight for in Portland.

This is a growing trend in the NBA as the looming cap boom continues to spark greater fears all around the league of “flight risks,” as Lowe terms it. And Toronto poses a juicy destination for Batum, especially with their heightened emphasis on versatile perimeter players of late (as evidenced by the money they gave to DeMarre Carroll this offseason). Still, Charlotte can at least look forward to a 2015-16 season where Batum, one of the NBA’s most underrated talents, will help them attempt to escape the Eastern Conference flotsam where they have seemingly resided for all eternity.

H/T ProBasketballTalk


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