The Chicago Bulls may have one of the more complete rosters in the NBA, but there’s at least one area in which they could benefit from a boost — or, at the least, some stability. Namely, the forward spot that isn’t being occupied by MVP candidate DeMar DeRozan.
DeRozan has been sensational in small-ball sets as a four-man, as well as on the wing. However, the position next to him has been a musical chairs situation.
For his part, former No. 4 overall pick Patrick Williams was expected to be the guy, but he was lost to a wrist injury for the regular season after just five games. Meanwhile, replacement forwards Javonte Green and Derrick Jones Jr. are also out with injuries, and neither is really a needle-mover where competing for a title is concerned.
Although Detroit Pistons star Jerami Grant and Harrison Barnes of the Sacramento Kings have both been mentioned as possible trade deadline solutions for the frontcourt, a team insider just namechecked another talented big man as a possibility for the Bulls.
Schaefer: Nicolas Batum Could Be a Possibility
For his latest deadline-related feature, NBC Sports Chicago’s Rob Schaefer examined some power forward options for the Bulls. As one might expect, Grant topped his list of suggestions, followed by Barnes.
In the third spot, though, he went somewhat outside of the box with LA Clippers forward Nicolas Batum, writing:
The 33-year-old Batum, while not as springy as Grant or Barnes, fulfills a lot of what the Bulls need in the frontcourt. He was a revelation for last season’s Clippers because of his defensive versatility and still-solid spot-up shooting, even manning some small-ball center during Los Angeles’ run to the conference finals.
He further noted that Batum’s $3.2 million salary would fit into the $5 million trade exception created by the Daniel Theis sign-and-trade. However, there are luxury tax concerns at play, and Chicago would have to open up a roster spot as well if there were no outgoing players.
Moreover, the Clippers are likely more inclined to move someone like Serge Ibaka. Still, Schaefer sees Batum as someone worth pursuing.
Perhaps there will end up being a more competitive offer, or the Clippers decide to hang onto Batum, who is still a productive player. Either way, he’s worth a phone call.
Batum Has Played a Key Role for the Clips
While Batum was in the midst of an early-season hot streak, fellow Clipper Reggie Jackson raved about everything the 33-year-old brings to the table.
“Best offensive player, night in and night out, doesn’t complain… Like, I don’t know how you could be a better dude, or a better teammate,” Jackson declared. “Like, there’s nothing he can’t do — run the point for us, score, shoot it, make big shots, big-time defensive plays. When you’ve got a guy like that in the trenches with you, you’re blessed.”
Although Los Angeles has been limited by injuries this season — and even down the stretch of 2020-21 — Batum has played a big part in what success the team has been able to achieve.
As of this writing, he’s averaging 8.0 points, 4.6 rebounds and a combined 1.8 blocks and steals per contest. He’s also posting a career-best effective field goal percentage of 62.2.