According to reports out of France, the Milwaukee Bucks are among the six teams that have reportedly reached out Nicolas Batum, who may be entering free agency.
The Milwaukee Bucks have done their heavy lifting this offseason, but they do have one roster spot available to them to fill out their 15-man roster.
While there are some significant hurdles that in trying to clear the room needed to bring in another player, the Bucks have shown an interest in bringing in experienced veterans for their chase at a championship the last two seasons. And a player who seems to reportedly fit that bill is veteran forward Nicolas Batum.
In a recent report from Antoine Pimmel over Basket Session out of France, Batum’s agent, Jeremy Medjana, shared that six teams have reached out to gauge the interest of the recently waived forward, a list that includes the Bucks:
“Six teams have contacted us and have shown an interest in Nico: the Nets, Warriors, Jazz, Clippers, Bucks and Raptors. We should be fixed on his fate very soon.”
Batum may be on the cusp of seeing his stint in Charlotte come to an end, all of which is dependent on the Hornet’s addition of Gordon Hayward. Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer reported over the weekend that the Hornets were leaning towards waiving Batum to free up the room to bring in Hayward, but that move has not been set in stone as far as a sign-and-trade between Charlotte and the Boston Celtics is being considered.
This comes after Batum had essentially been phased out last season as the Hornets embraced their youth movement in light of the departure of Kemba Walker and Batum easily played the fewest minutes of his NBA career. In 22 appearances, Batum averaged a dismal 3.6 points on .346/.286/.900 shooting splits, 4.5 rebounds, 3 assists and 0.8 steals over 23 minutes per contests.
While the Milwaukee Bucks may have interest in Batum, there have some cap hurdles to clear to potentially bring him on their roster.
We already touched on the reason why bringing in Batum, as the Bucks’ roster is currently constructed, will require plenty of gymnastics with their cap sheet.
The free agent additions of both D.J. Augustin and Bobby Portis, through the midlevel exception and bi-annual exception, has triggered the hard cap, which is set at $138.9 million this year and a little more than $6 million over the luxury tax threshold. On top of that, Jrue Holiday’s contract contains up to $4.7 million incentives, per Spotrac.
Because of the uncertainty of those incentives being triggered, depending on Holiday’s performance as well as earning accolades, that takes up plenty of the room between the tax line and hitting the cap apron where the Bucks can go no further with their salaries.
For all of those reasons and plenty more, the Bucks have to walk a tightrope in structuring their deals on the books as well as agreeing to the contracts with their pair of second round picks, Sam Merrill and Jordan Nwora. That obviously takes precedence first in being able to have the financial flexibility to fill that last roster spot available to them at this stage, as tight as it will be.
If they were to have the room to sign someone like Batum, the French international would only count $1.6 million against the salary cap, despite commanding what would be a $2.5 million salary at the veteran minimum.
That’s due to Batum’s 12 years of service, which is similar to what we saw with Wesley Matthews last offseason as he ended up signing a two-year deal at the veteran minimum. And if Batum would be signed during the season, his theoretical minimum salary would be pro-rated, which would ease the Bucks’ cap figures under this scenario.
With those important financials in mind, it doesn’t come as much of a surprise that the Bucks would reach out to gauge Batum’s interest.
Even if it been a while since he’s shown it regularly on an NBA court, Batum possesses the pass-dribble-shoot skill set the Bucks have repeatedly targeted this offseason and all at his 6’8″ frame. With the positional size and versatility he brings, Batum could potentially fortify their frontcourt that does need shoring up around the established Giannis Antetokounmpo and Brook Lopez and the incoming Bobby Portis.
But if the words from Batum’s agent are believed to be true, the Bucks will have competition in trying to lure the veteran forward to Milwaukee and that goes on top of the financial hurdles that exist at the moment. Still, we’ll stay tuned to this developing story with free agency having slowed to a crawl at this point.