Charlotte Hornets: Is Nic Batum’s contract the worst in the NBA?

The NBA is full of bloated contracts and the Charlotte Hornets have several. They also may have the worst in the entire league.

If you’re a fan of the Charlotte Hornets, you’ve no doubt seen someone on social media express their displeasure over the contract of Nicolas Batum. In fact. you may have even done so yourself. Personally, I’ve tried to refrain from doing so, but that’s not to say that it sits well with me.

I like Nic. He seems like a genuinely good guy judging from his social media presence and despite his perceived lack of basketball skills, I’m sure he’s a talented basketball player. Yet. the 6″8″ forward from France has seen his playing time dwindle to almost nothing and his output on the court has obviously suffered for it.

The Hornets have played 65 games so far in this sure-to-be abbreviated season. Batum has played in just 22 of those games. Injuries are a small part of that as he did miss time with an injured finger. But, mostly, it’s due to poor play.

The Charlotte Hornets are often the butt of many a joke on social media and the most common one involves the contract of Nicolas Batum.

When he has played, Batum has scored just 4 points per game on 35% shooting. It doesn’t get any better from long-range as the forward is shooting a mere 29% from outside. He also has the third-lowest PER (Player Efficiency Rating) on the team, not counting two-way players.

On the positive note, he does shoot 90% from the charity stripe, which would put him in the top-ten in the NBA if he played enough games to qualify. He also ranks fifth on the team in rebounds per game, which is somewhat impressive given his lack of playing time.

Sadly, that’s about all there is on the positive front for Nic and that’s a shame because he’s going to get paid over $27 million next year, should he decide to exercise his player option. I fully expect him to because honestly, if he decided to go elsewhere, he’s not going to make that much money.

So, just where does that stack up among the other high-value players in the NBA? Next year, Batum will be the 41st-highest player in the league. That might not sound so bad but with names like Rudy Gobert, Nikola Vucevic, LaMarcus Aldridge, and Victor Oladipo right behind him, you can see just how egregious that payout is.

Of the 40 guys in front of him in terms of salary next year, all but three have made at least one All-Star game, and those three exceptions are guys who are are borderline All-Stars in their own right. Batum hasn’t even sniffed an All-Star game in his 12-year career.

Batum is aware of how fans feel and he has expressed his disappointment in the fact that he hasn’t lived up to the $120 million dollar contract he signed four years ago. Personally, I feel bad as well because it seems like fans (including myself) can, at times, be a bit harsh towards the Frenchman.

It’s unfortunate to have a player so maligned on your team because one should try and be a fan of the team, first and foremost, but when you think about all the bad front office decisions the team has made over the past few decades, Batum’s contract draws the ire of fans in ways few things do.

It’s not solely his fault either, of course, as the decision to offer him that contract was never a good idea, but at the time, NBA owners were expecting to see a lot more money coming in, so the thought was to spend it while they could.

It’s also not like Batum hasn’t shown promise throughout his career. There was a time when he was with the Portland Trail Blazers where it seemed he was going to be a capable player; possibly a 20/8/6 kind of guy.

Even if that happened, he still wouldn’t be worth what the Hornets gave him. It’s just another in the long line of bad decisions the team has made. After next year, it’ll be interesting to see what happens because I’m sure the team will move on from him.

Next: Could the Charlotte Hornets consider Tristan Thompson in free agency?

In any case, I’m sure no fans wish the 31-year-old any ill will or anything. It’s just another simple case of a player not living up to a lofty contract and nothing more. It’s just disappointing knowing it’s arguably the worst contract the Charlotte Hornets have ever known.

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