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Batum reportedly leaving Sixers, joining Clippers again with free-agent contract

Batum was a valuable role player who meshed well in Philadelphia.

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Nicolas Batum has reportedly decided to start next season in the same spot he began the last one. 

The 35-year-old forward has agreed on a two-year, $9.6 million contract with the Clippers, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported Monday.

Batum joined the Sixers very early last year via trade, leaving the Clippers as part of a James Harden-centered deal.

He meshed well in Philadelphia. Batum averaged 25.9 minutes for the Sixers and posted 5.5 points, 4.2 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game. He shot 39.9 percent from three-point range during the regular season and hit 9 of 22 triples (40.9 percent) in the Sixers’ first-round playoff series loss to the Knicks. 

Those numbers do not reflect much of Batum’s impact. Teammates like Joel Embiid regularly praised his poise, entry passing, pervasive intelligence and capacity to defend every position. The Sixers will miss all those qualities.

Batum’s 20 points in the Sixers’ play-in tournament win over the Heat were crucial, too. 

“I’ve played with a lot of great coaches, a lot of great players, so I’ve learned through the years,” he said after lifting the Sixers in that comeback victory. “I’ve been a pro for 18 years. This is my 18th year, if you count my pro season in France before I got drafted to the NBA. So I think I learned to be calm in the game.

“I try to understand who I play with. How can I be a great fit with Tyrese (Maxey)? How can I help Joel space-wise? How can I talk to those guys? … I don’t have the same legs, but I’ve still got my brain, so I just try to think the game and help my teammates be in the right positions.”

With Batum and Tobias Harris exiting, the Sixers still clearly have work to do at forward.

They've agreed to add Paul George in a massive move and also reached deals with Kelly Oubre Jr., Andre Drummond and Eric Gordon over the first day of free agency.

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