Nicolas Batum will remain in Charlotte. The Hornets reached a five-year, $120 million deal with their hard-defending, three-point shooting small forward early on July 1, according to Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer and Shams Charania of The Vertical.
Batum came to North Carolina in 2015 and gave the Hornets the balanced scoring and hard-nosed defense the team thought it was getting in Lance Stephenson the year before. His 5.8 assists per game led the team while his 14.9 points per game ranked second. While his steady three-point shooting helped space the floor, he effectively gave Charlotte a playmaking point forward who could facilitate the team's offense when Kemba Walker or Al Jefferson failed to create opportunities on their own.
The on-court improvement in Charlotte was stark. The Hornets went 33-49 the season before Batum arrived. Excepting the dozen games he missed due to injury this season, they improved to 41-29 in 2015-16.
Batum is only 27 years old, but he's established himself as a gritty two-way player in his eight seasons in the NBA. He broke into the league back in 2008 after being selected by the Houston Rockets 25th overall. He was traded to the Portland Trailblazers and started 76 games for a playoff team as a rookie. Since then, he's developed into a reliable, athletic swingman who can shoot the three and finish at the rim.
His arrival in Charlotte helped transform the Hornets' often stagnant half court offense into a dynamic, free shooting set. His versatility means coach Steve Clifford can employ him in several different ways. Here he is, setting a screen at the top of the arc, then coming back to the play to drain a three-pointer while still in motion.
Here he is moving to the ball, drawing a double-team, and passing to a wide open Jeremy Lin for an easy finish at the basket.
Batum's stats fail to accurately measure his impact on the Charlotte offense. The Frenchman often bails out his point guards by moving to the ball and creating the confusion on which the Hornets feed. Add that two his long-armed wing defense (2.9 defensive win shares in 2015-16, good for third on the team), and it's easy to understand why locking him down was a priority.
Batum's new deal is a significant raise from his last contract. The French forward made $11,860,750 last season in the final year of a four year, $46 million deal signed with the Portland Trailblazers back in 2012.