UPDATE 6/30/16 (1:20 PM PT): The Lakers are one of three teams that will speak with Nicolas Batum over the phone according to ESPN’s Marc J. Spears via Tim MacMahon:
Source tells @MarcJSpearsESPN that Nic Batum will meet with Hornets and Mavs in Dallas and will talk to Knicks, Lakers, Wizards on phone.
— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) June 30, 2016
There are a number of intriguing wing players who will be available during free agency. The cream of the crop is, of course, Kevin Durant, but others such as DeMar DeRozan and Harrison Barnes are sure to attract a lot of attention as well.
One name that has somewhat flown under the radar is Charlotte Hornets forward Nicolas Batum, who enjoyed a resurgent year in his first season in Charlotte.
It has long been rumored that Batum prefers to re-sign with the Hornets, but according to Brad Turner of the LA Times, Batum is considering talking with the Lakers once free agency begins:
Free agent small forward Nicolas Batum mulling over options, including talking with Lakers, source. He's flying from Paris to US tomorrow.
— Brad Turner (@BA_Turner) June 29, 2016
While this is far from a guarantee that Batum would sign with the Lakers or even leave Charlotte, it is a good sign for the Lakers that he is reportedly considering meeting with them. Batum would be an excellent addition as a do-it-all wing player who can fill a number of different positions.
Batum is a great ball-handler and passer who can set up the offense when necessary. He is also a great rebounder for his position and can defend multiple positions on the other end, something the Lakers sorely need. He is even a career 36 percent three-point shooter so he can spread the floor as well.
Batum is exactly the type of player the Lakers would be wise in targeting. The most likely scenario is probably still him remaining in Charlotte, but the Lakers getting a meeting and selling the young talent could persuade him to come to Los Angeles. It also gives the Lakers some more insurance if Brandon Ingram isn’t quite ready to be a full-time contributor, and the two could play together in certain lineups.
Last season Batum averaged 14.9 points, 6.1 rebounds, and 5.8 assists in 70 games for the Hornets.