Nicolas Batum Among Warriors’ Unexpected Potential Free Agent Targets

Getty Images Cody Zeller #40 celebrates with teammates Nicolas Batum #5 and P.J. Hairston #19 of the Charlotte Hornets

Given the injury to their star shooting guard Klay Thompson the Golden State Warriors have gone from possible title contenders to the middle of the pack within the NBA’s western conference.

In needing to supplant the loss of Thompson’s production the Warriors were able to use their traded player exception to acquire Oklahoma City Thunder swingman Kelly Oubre Jr. who was recently acquired in a trade sending Chris Paul to the Phoenix Suns.

Oubre last season had a standout year for the Suns as his scoring average jumped to 18.7 points per game. Additionally, his rebounds increased to 6.4 per game and this three-point shooting percentage was 35%. All of these will be key for him to aid the Warriors as a potential starter. Yet the Warriors may not be done making moves this offseason.

The team is certainly incapable of adding a major free agent due to its current financial outlook. Adding Oubre will end up costing the Warriors as it pushes their tax bill of $134 million therefore adding a player will only be done if they can work out a contract favorable to the team. With that, here are two players that can aid the Warriors this upcoming season.

Nicolas Batum Among Available Targets

Nicolas Batum Hornets vs. Heat

One of the top perimeter defenders in the NBA, Nicolas Batum represented France in the Rio Olympics (Getty)

The Charlotte Hornets shocked the NBA by agreeing to a deal with former Boston Celtic Gordon Hayward to a 4 year/$120 million dollar contract. With this, the Hornets needed to clear cap space to bring in their new forward and the team decided to waive forward Nic Batum using the stretch provision to open a roster spot but still pay him $27 million over the next three seasons.

Batum had an off-year with the Hornets last season only averaging 3.6 points, 4.5 rebounds, and shooting 29% from three. Yet he was injured at times and his minutes were cut drastically from previous seasons. Going back to the 2018-2019 season, Batum averaged 9.3 points, 5.2 rebounds and shot 38% from three while being a capable defender. If the Warriors were able to bring in Batum on a veteran minimum he may add a spark to the team as a limited role player and provide valuable minutes behind Wiggins and Oubre Jr.

After being a key performer for the Houston Rockets guard Austin Rivers decided to opt-out of his $4.5 million deal. The news doesn’t come as a shock to most as Rivers, per The Athletic’s, Kelly Iko, Shams Charania, and Sam Amick, was “unhappy with his inconsistent playing time and utilization.” Furthermore, he “reportedly went on an “expletive-laden tirade” after one game in which D’Antoni had called for him to go in, only to change his mind and insert DeMarre Carroll, instead.”

Being able to come to the Warriors would be a great opportunity for Rivers to have a consistent and reliable role as a playmaker and shooter off the bench. Per The Athletic’s Tim Kawakami, it’s something they are considering.

Last season, Rivers averaged 8.8 points, 2.6 rebounds, and 1.7 assists while shooting 35% from beyond the three-point line.

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