The Los Angeles Clippers forward joined the Posted Up with Chris Haynes podcast to discuss his first season with the team, how he ended up in L.A. and what led to the end of his time in Charlotte. Hear the full conversation on the Posted Up with Chris Haynes podcast. Subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher or wherever you listen.
CHRIS HAYNES: So how did you end up with the Clippers? We all know there was the kind of buyout situation away there with Charlotte. What ultimately led you to this team?
NIC BATUM: You know, when the news, like, when that happened, when that happened and I got the news I got waived, I found out on Twitter actually. I was the one let go, so you know, I took it maybe it's a good thing for me and a good thing for the team, good thing for both of us, for the two parties, actually, I thought. So I was kind of excited for a new challenge because I know I'm 32 years old. You know, I know I've-- need a new challenge, maybe.
Things didn't work out the last 18 months. Basketball is not-- I played five years in Charlotte. I think my first two years was pretty good. The last two was different, you know. And your career, sometimes things can't really go your way. So things didn't work out the last two years.
So I saw it's time for me to move on. And I got, like, a lot of team who called me, and I got a lot of GM and coaches and players on the phone nearly right after the news broke out. And I decide to choose the Clippers because I felt like my game could fit with those guys.
I just let the game come to me. I just want to make sure that the player I have around me-- and I have great players around me. You know, I got two top 10, top 15 players for sure in my team right now. So it's great to play with that type of guy.
Ty Lue is a great coach, and all the guys around are amazing. And it's just a great situation for me, collectively, for sure, the team have and maybe for myself a little bit.
CHRIS HAYNES: Can you name some teams that were calling you?
NIC BATUM: You talked to Utah. You talked to-- talked to Kemba.
CHRIS HAYNES: OK, no doubt. Your old teammate.
NIC BATUM: Yes. And Milwaukee, Brooklyn, Toronto, [INAUDIBLE]. Golden State.
CHRIS HAYNES: Wow.
NIC BATUM: That's the only team we focused on here.
CHRIS HAYNES: You wanted to go to a contending team.
NIC BATUM: I was kind of scared, actually, because think maybe if I let go, might be done. Might be done [INAUDIBLE] think so.
CHRIS HAYNES: You thought that.
NIC BATUM: Of course I thought about it. I mean, you never know. You never know.
You know, you get a draft every year. Got 60 new guys coming in. They're new young guys, and the way I play, what I showed the last two years, I didn't think, like, any team would trust and believe in me. And that was actually the case, because I got a lot of phone calls. So it was good.
CHRIS HAYNES: Nic, I'm surprised to hear you say that a little bit, because, for the people who are familiar with what you went through in Charlotte the last couple of years, they were kind of going young. You know, they were going young and wanted to see other guys play and perform. So was it-- did you feel like you still had more game left? Or did you feel like your time was winding down in the NBA because you probably couldn't be as productive as you typically are?
NIC BATUM: When they made their decision to let go of Steve Clifford, Steve was a guy who would, like, with Terry Stotts, let me play my game. And out of my first three were great, was with Cliff. I loved him. And I still love him.
And-- but, yeah, the new coach, new GM situation, and I understand that [INAUDIBLE]. This is business, so they took another direction. And they asked me from day one to do total different stuff than I've been doing the last seven, eight years prior that.
And you know me. I would never go against [INAUDIBLE] people in this [INAUDIBLE], especially my coach, so-- even if I disagree with him about it. But I'm like, all right, I'm going to do it. And I asked, like, sometime, I can do better, but, no, we don't want you to do that. We want you to do this.
So it was kind of tough for me, because when you have a contract, as I had-- you know, I had a big, big contract. I wanted to do something. And I could do better, but what I've been asked, I mean, I couldn't really justify this--
CHRIS HAYNES: Yeah.
NIC BATUM: --money.
CHRIS HAYNES: Yeah.
NIC BATUM: So-- and, last year, I understand because we had, like, LaDontae, we had Mikal Bridges, we had PJ Washington, all those young kid coming up. They were great. And you had Terry Rozier, so--
CHRIS HAYNES: [INAUDIBLE]
NIC BATUM: I understand that, because they were young kids, young guys, and I think Coach Borrego's a great coach for them.
CHRIS HAYNES: So you said the last two years, they wanted you to be defense and shoot 3's.
NIC BATUM: Mm-hmm.
CHRIS HAYNES: How would you describe your role now with the Clippers?
NIC BATUM: They just want me to be back myself, by myself again, be that guy, because I got the ball a lot in my hands to start plays and create plays or make sure sometime Kawhi and PJ doesn't have to get the ball and play a lot of dribble sometimes. And that's what I've been doing my whole career.
I mean, I did that with LaMarcus, with [? Dame, ?] with Kemba my first two years. I got the ball a lot because we wanted him to play-- hog the ball sometime. I love to do that. And you need guys sometimes like that. I've been doing that maybe my whole career besides the last two years.
CHRIS HAYNES: You're the-- right now, first place, Western Conference standing. So I want to ask, as you come to this team, obviously, the way things ended with the Clippers last year was just disappointing on a lot of fronts. Is it championship or bust for this team this year? How-- what is the outlook on this team?
NIC BATUM: I just got there. You're making me sit and talk like this.
CHRIS HAYNES: I [INAUDIBLE]. You know what you're stepping into, Nic.
NIC BATUM: I know, I know. I don't know if it's that big because our neighbor got better too.
CHRIS HAYNES: They did. They did. Man.
NIC BATUM: You've got LeBron. [INAUDIBLE] AD. They got better. This is the West, too.
CHRIS HAYNES: Mm-hmm.
NIC BATUM: You know, the West got a lot of team that can return to great thing. But we know we got a chance to do some special for sure. But we have to do it--
CHRIS HAYNES: Yeah.
NIC BATUM: --now. We have to do it. And we have to go have a great 72-game season, get ready to be ready for the real season after, when it really starts.