76ers Stay or Go: Philadelphia Should Do Everything Possible to Bring Back Veteran Nic Batum

76ers Stay or Go: Philadelphia Should Do Everything Possible to Bring Back Veteran Nic Batum Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Philadelphia 76ers forward Nicolas Batum (40) shoots the ball against the Orlando Magic during the fourth quarter at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The Philadelphia 76ers’ roster is likely to undergo another revamp during this offseason. Joel Embiid and Tyrese Maxey are the only two players locked in to be on the roster at the beginning of the 2024-25 season. The Sixers have decisions to make about the future of 13 players from their 2023-24 roster. They are likely to possess roughly $65 million in salary cap space heading into free agency this summer.

In the fifth installment of the “76ers Stay or Go” series, let’s discuss whether veteran forward Nic Batum should remain in Philadelphia.

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When the Sixers traded James Harden to the Los Angeles Clippers early last season, most of the return package coming to Philadelphia consisted of draft picks. The Sixers also acquired multiple players in the deal, with Batum proving to be the headliner.

Batum, whether in the starting lineup or coming off the bench, made a positive impact for the Sixers. He consistently made the right plays, whether it was a timely defensive rotation or his court vision and passing ability. The French native was one of the team’s best at making post entry passes. His passing ability allowed the Sixers to run more creative inbounds plays, such as this one against the San Antonio Spurs.

The 16-year veteran’s defensive versatility also shined in Philadelphia. He would go from defending smaller guards like Trae Young one night to matching up against bigger forwards such as Jayson Tatum on other nights. Having someone with that kind of versatility defensively was a major plus for head coach Nick Nurse.

In 57 games with the Sixers, Batum averaged 5.5 points, 4.2 rebounds and 2.2 assists while shooting 39.9% from 3-point range. Those numbers are not impressive on paper, but the veteran forward consistently made winning plays. Batum’s outside shooting ability was key to making him a good fit next to Embiid and Maxey. He possessed a quick trigger from deep, including a unique ability to shoot off the catch without lowering the ball before releasing.

Batum cemented his presence in Philadelphia sports lore with a career night against the Miami Heat in the play-in tournament. He scored 20 points, including shooting 6 of 10 from beyond the arc. His huge performance was just enough to lift the Sixers to the win in a game where Embiid and Maxey both had off nights.

Bringing Batum back would be a no-brainer for the Sixers. He checks all the boxes and is the ideal role player for this roster. The big holdup is his potential retirement from professional basketball. The 35-year old will be representing France, his home country, in the 2024 Paris Olympics. There have been many rumors about Batum potentially calling it quits after the Olympics this summer.

If Batum decides to continue his career, the Sixers should do everything possible to bring him back. Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer reported Batum is among the “free agents the team most likely would like to re-sign.” Pompey also added the Sixers “feel like they will be able to work something out with him [Batum] in free agency. The 6-foot-8, 230-pound forward didn’t expect to like Philadelphia, but ended up loving it here.”

Batum should not cost the Sixers much more than the veteran minimum, valued at $3.3 million, in free agency. Fitting in his contract around their other offseason moves should not be difficult to do. Even at his advanced age, Batum has shown he is capable of consistently making a positive impact. He can either slot into the starting lineup or come off the bench and play 20-to-25 minutes per night. If the Frenchman decides to return for another season, it looks promising he will be remaining in a Sixers uniform.

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