Milwaukee Bucks: Nicolas Batum confirms interest before joining L.A. Clippers

MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - JANUARY 25: (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - JANUARY 25: (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /

In an interview on the ‘Posted Up’ podcast, veteran forward Nicolas Batum confirmed the Milwaukee Bucks’ interest in his services before joining the L.A. Clippers.

While they’re focused on their early run this 2020-21 season, the Milwaukee Bucks were certainly active on multiple fronts this offseason.

There were no shortage of major questions that the Bucks had to tend to, including waiting on Giannis Antetokounmpo’s eventual decision to sign his five-year supermax extension. As they looked to overhaul half of their roster, they had reportedly reached out to Nicolas Batum as he was cusp of seeing his five-year stint with the Charlotte Hornets come to an end.

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In his recent appearance on the ‘Posted Up’ podcast hosted by Yahoo! Sports’ Chris Haynes, Batum confirmed the Bucks were one the many teams that reached out to him after being waived by the Hornets during the offseason:

"“Haynes: Nic, can you name some teams that were you calling you as soon as you got (waived?)”Batum: I talked to Utah. I talked to Kemba (Walker). Milwaukee, Brooklyn, Toronto, Golden State. Those were the teams we focused on there.”"

That list of teams certainly lines up with the teams that Batum’s agent shared had reached out to him upon hitting the open market as his time in Charlotte eventually came to an end.

Batum has certainly welcomed the change of scenery upon joining the L.A. Clippers as he’s currently averaging 8.7 points on .488/.458/.909 shooting, 5.7 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 0.9 steals over his seven appearances on the year.

The Milwaukee Bucks do have an open roster spot, but face quite the financial squeeze to bring in another player to fill out their 15-man roster.

While the Bucks did have an open roster spot at the time of being linked to Batum, and still do, the financial hurdles they have in regards to the cap situation haven’t disappeared by any means.

By using both the non-taxpayer midlevel exception and the bi-annual exception with their additions of D.J. Augustin, Bryn Forbes and Bobby Portis, the Bucks triggered the hard cap set at $138.9 million for this season. While their salaries accumulate to $134.4 million at this stage, Jrue Holiday’s unlikely and likely contract bonuses that go up to $4.7 million fill up the rest of that margin.

That creates the squeeze that we’re seeing with the Bucks as they can’t go over the hard cap. While we’re far off from seeing a potential buyout signing or even a minor trade, Bucks general manager Jon Horst was optimistic that the Bucks could add to their roster if need be to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Jim Owczarski last month:

"“I think both. I think kind of where we’re at for a while but because we have an open roster spot, there’s not a guaranteed contract in there, there is some opportunity. There’s opportunity through exploring trades. There’s some opportunity through exploring free-agent signings. There are some opportunities that we can explore as we go, but with our hard cap situation and our financial position we’re in right now it’s pretty tight. But it is advantageous for us, both necessary based on our hard cap but also advantageous for us going forward to have a little bit of flexibility and have a little more options as we go forward.”"

While the flexibility that Horst details is far more theoretical at this stage, we’re very early into this Bucks season and have yet not begun to see this team click.

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So while the Bucks may have lost out on Batum, there is the possibility of them landing a veteran down the line who can help them on their quest to win an NBA title. It will just have to compliant with the salary cap, if the possibilities present themselves.