2016 NBA free agents: Nic Batum fits Miami Heat needs

Nicolas Batum has many of the skills Miami needs, especially outside shooting. (Getty Images)

Nicolas Batum has many of the skills Miami needs, especially outside shooting. (Getty Images)

Few free agents in this summer’s class look like better pieces for the Heat than Nicolas Batum. Unfortunately for Miami, plenty of other teams will be thinking the same thing.

Batum is a versatile wing player who is coming off one of the best seasons of his eight-year career. He averaged 14.9 points, 6.1 rebounds and 5.8 assists in 35 minutes per game. He shot 34.8 percent on 3-pointers and is at 36 percent for his career.

He’s not at the defensive level of Luol Deng, but would be a worthwhile pursuit. Miami could consider a starting lineup with Justise Winslow at power forward and Batum at small forward.

Basketball-Reference estimates his career earnings at $51.7 million, including $12.3 last year, but this is his best chance yet to cash in. Batum should get sizable multi-year offers, including one from Charlotte. The Hornets seem eager to keep him, and he said at the end of the season he’s never played for a coach who understood his ability as well as Steve Clifford.

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