French Connection: Toronto Raptors Interested In Nicolas Batum
Toronto Raptors have for long been connected with Nicolas Batum. Perhaps it’s due to their French Connection? Batum is from France, and most of Canada converses in French.Advertisement
Raptors risk losing DeMar Derozan in free agency this summer. Batum would be the perfect replacement at the two-guard spot. This season, Batum is putting up career-best numbers. In fact, the Hornets rose to the No 2 seed for several weeks when Batum averaged over 20 points per game.
After Batum went down with the toe injury, the Hornets stumbled to a seven-game losing streak, indicating the value of the French swingman. Batum is averaging 16 points, 6.5 rebounds and 5.2 assists this season. More importantly, his defensive efficiency has been off-the-charts.
Batum was traded from Portland Trailblazers to Charlotte Hornets during the last off-season. Despite his success in Charlotte, very few believe that the 27-year-old would sign a deal with Michael Jordan’s team.
Until last season, Batum wasn’t expected to warrant a max contract. He was viewed as a utility/role player who could contribute to a team’s success on both ends of the floor. However, with the unprecedented salary-cap hike next summer, Batum has become a lock for a max deal. In fact, Batum is the leading candidate to win Most Improved Player this season. Back in November, Batum won the Player of the Week honors for his consistent all-round efforts.
Carroll and Batum at the wing?
ESPN’s Zach Lowe explored the possibility of Raptors pairing DeMarre Carroll and Nicolas Batum at the wing position. “Batum isn’t as explosive as DeRozan, but he can shoot 3s, he’s a (slightly) better passer and he can defend more positions. Pair him with Carroll, and the Raps would have two wings who can both shoot 3s and slide to power forward — basic ingredients to the kind of powerhouse small-ball lineups Golden State discovered.”
“When I reported over the summer that Batum and Toronto harbored some mutual interest, Batum emphatically expressed his desire to remain in Charlotte. Still, expect Ujiri to at least sniff around the possibility of slotting Batum into DeRozan’s salary slot.”
Lowe’s report also highlights the possibility of DeRozan leaving town. The Raptors would desperately need to replace DeRozan since most of their success has revolved around the backcourt tandem of Kyle Lowry and DeRozan. Nicolas Batum would bring a different skillset to Toronto Raptors.