Bulldog free agent Shane Battier has narrowed his list of potential destinations.
And Oklahoma City doesn’t appear to be on it.
According to NBA.com’s David Aldridge, Battier has trimmed his wish list to just a handful of teams.
Free agent forward Shane Battier has narrowed his list of prospective teams from more than the original dozen or so to a handful of teams, including his current team, the Memphis Grizzlies, Miami, Indiana and Toronto, according to a league source.”
It’s possible this list is not comprehensive. Still, it’s no surprise the Thunder isn’t at least listed here. Twice in the past week I attempted to explain why Battier isn’t a likely option in OKC. You can see those explanations here and here.
But there is something that stands out about Battier’s alleged wish list. Of the four teams mentioned, only one, the Heat, is a title contender. The Grizzlies, only on the list because Battier last played in Memphis, are a likely playoff team, while the Pacers and Raptors both would be happy sneaking into the playoffs this season. That sort of goes against conventional wisdom, or at least the logic most adopted when they believed the 33-year-old Battier would only be interested in signing with a club in the championship hunt.
Seeing two teams that won a combined 59 games last season appear on the list, however, gives credence to my recent conversations regarding the future of the notoriously pesky defender. Battier, I’m hearing, wants big bucks. If money is indeed Battier’s biggest motivator, it’s no coincidence Indiana and Toronto are on the list. Both are in the bottom third in payroll, allowing each team the ability to tender Battier a lucrative contract if they desire. And Battier already has stated his preference of landing a three- or four-year deal. Memphis, meanwhile, could be roughly $5 million under the cap but would be allowed to exceed it to re-sign Battier.
Despite all of that, you’ve got to think Miami must be atop Battier’s list. Because no one is more South Beach than Shane Battier, right? OK, seriously, the Heat enter this season as the favorite to win it all, and there is a glaring need for a guy like Battier in Miami, especially if Pat Riley parts ways with injury-prone Mike Miller. Miami is over the cap and can offer only the mid-level exception, which figures to be around $5.7 million and not much more than the Thunder could tender if minor moves are made to clear up a spot and some cash.
The biggest difference between the Thunder and Heat is the role available to Battier. In Miami, Battier easily could receive the 24 minutes a night he played with Memphis last year. With the Thunder, though, Battier could have a hard time getting to 20. He knows it, the Thunder knows it and anyone who’s been paying attention knows it.
It’s just one of the many reasons Battier’s short list doesn’t include Oklahoma City, even if the two are a match made in heaven.