Source: Kent Smith (via FoxSports.com)
The Hornets achieved their primary goal this offseason by re-signing swingman Nicolas Batum to a 5-year contract worth $120 million. The news came relatively early on July 1st, buried in the middle of huge contracts to just about every player available. With the rapidly rising salary cap, Batum’s deal is actually a hefty discount for the team — according to cap expert Nate Duncan, his deal could have been up to $33 million more.
The Hornets needed to re-sign Batum no matter the price, and getting him at a level under the max is an absolute steal. Well-rounded forwards like Batum are going for huge amounts this summer — Chandler Parsons got $23.5 million per year from Memphis, for example. Even Evan Turner, a bad three-point shooter and mediocre-at-best defender, got $70 million for four years in Portland. Outside of Kevin Durant and LeBron James, Batum was the best small forward on the market (and LeBron James isn’t really on the market). He absolutely could’ve gotten max money somewhere, and Charlotte managed to retain him for less than that.
The team now has the young core of Kemba Walker, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, and Nicolas Batum locked up at under market value for at least the next three years. With Jeremy Lin and Al Jefferson both leaving town, that extra bit of cap flexibility could definitely come in handy to sign replacement players. Batum had all the leverage, but he took a small pay cut anyway in order to help the team’s financial situation. This was the best deal for all parties involved.