According to csnnw.com, the San Antonio Spurs will actively pursue forward Nicolas Batum in free agency. Batum earns $$2,155,364 this year but he will probably garner at least 10 million a year. As a restricted free agent, however, the Portland Trail Blazers reserve the right to match any offer.
John Hollinger described Batum as a “long, slender combo forward with history of shoulder injuries” that “lacks strength.” Weighing in at 200 pounds, Batum doesn’t exactly provide a lot of girth. His length, as Hollinger notes, still makes him defensive factor even though he has posted awful defensive numbers. According to NBA.com, the Blazers allow 106 points per 100 possessions when Batum is on the court. While that may seem awful, and it still is, that level of efficiency is slightly better than the Blazers usual defensive efficiency.
I believe that Batum would be a great fit for the Spurs system. As a basketball fan, I have always enjoyed watching the Trail Blazers because of Batum. His connection with Tony Parker, both being from France, also adds intrigue to this rumor. Boris Diaw has revitalized himself after leaving Charlotte for the cohesive, well run San Antonio Spurs team.
But signing Batum isn’t the most beneficial move for the Spurs. Instead, I’d prefer Danny Green. Not because he’s a better basketball player but because his services won’t require quite the financial investment. Instead of 10 million a year, maybe we get Green for half of that (just an example because I don’t have a grasp on the free agent market as of yet).
Re-signing Green, also a restricted free agent next year, will benefit the Spurs economically and, despite the disparity in contract value, won’t severely hamper them at the forward position.
In fact, the Spurs could be getting a player of equal value and one that we know fits in well into the Spurs organization, as a player and person. Stastically speaking, Green and Batum posted eerily similar numbers in turnover percentage, rebounding percentage, steal percentage and the all-inclusive shooting metric (includes free throws), true shooting percentage.
For the acclaim Batum receives for his defense, Green also plays pretty solid defense. He’s notorious for fighting off almost any screen, which is valuable in today’s NBA that is heavily reliant on screens to free up space on the perimeter.
The Spurs bread and butter, the corner 3-pointer, is also one of Green’s strengths. Green shoots 46 percent from the corner. Batum doesn’t struggle from the corner but his 39 percent figure is a definite downgrade from that specific part of the floor.
Ultimately the question bodes down to this: are the Spurs willing to pay a player that probably will fit into the system twice as much as a guy, with a very similar skill set, that has fit into the system?
Either that or this is just an elaborate way for the Spurs’ front office to devalue Green’s market value. I’m leaning towards the latter explanation but predicting the Spurs front office decision is fruitless.