Nicolas Batum

Batum back with Sixers, says he's ‘focused, happy to be here' 

The veteran forward had been away for personal reasons.

NBC Universal, Inc.

Nicolas Batum wanted to clear up any confusion Monday morning.

He’s back with the Sixers after being away for personal reasons, and Batum plans to be a member of the team for the foreseeable future.

“Everybody gave me the (permission) to go … something’s going on, you’ve got to take care of it,” Batum said. “So the team knew. I’m not considering retirement; I don’t know where that came from. I don’t know who said that — sources or whatever. I’m here. 

“I’m happy to be here, I’m not retiring or anything. I just had to take care of something. Sometimes stuff is bigger than basketball, so I had to get away and take care of it first.”

Batum walked through plays at the Sixers’ shootaround alongside fellow former Clippers Robert Covington, KJ Martin and Marcus Morris Sr.

He acknowledged the challenges of handling all that a cross-country trade entails, but Batum emphasized he’s committed to being a Sixer. 

“This is a business,” he said. “It’s not easy to get traded, with everything and your family. I’m here to just do my job. I’m focused, happy to be here. They wanted me, so I’m OK with that and I’m focused.”

Covington is the only trade acquisition to receive rotation minutes so far. With both Kelly Oubre Jr. and Tobias Harris in foul trouble, he spent time defending Kevin Durant in the Sixers’ Saturday afternoon win over the Suns. Sixers head coach Nick Nurse is aiming to strike the right balance between acclimating new players and sticking with what’s worked for his team, which enters Monday’s matchup with the Wizards on a four-game winning streak.  

Batum said he’s healthy and will be active for Monday night’s game. It would be surprising if Nurse immediately gave the versatile 34-year-old heavy minutes, but we shall see.

Especially with Oubre thriving as a starter the past two games, Batum’s outside shooting and passing skills might be useful soon for the Sixers’ second unit. 

“He’s a coach who’s team-first,” Batum said last Wednesday of Nurse. “He wants to move the ball, play as a team. As a player, that’s how I like to play. ... When you’re around guys like (Tyrese) Maxey and (Joel) Embiid, it’s easy to play around those guys.”

Indeed, Batum’s new locker room includes the reigning MVP.

“When you play with a guy of that magnitude, that good … I’ve played with guys like Kawhi (Leonard) and (Paul George),” Batum said last week. “When you play with guys like this, they make the game so easy for you to play around, because he’s so smart. 

“So I just try to adjust myself to him. I will share the court with him sometimes, so I just have to find out where he likes the ball, when I can move with the ball, without the ball, and we’ll see what happens.” 

Contact Us