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Clippers bring back Nicolas Batum and sign Derrick Jones Jr. and Kevin Porter Jr.

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LOS ANGELES (AP) — Nicolas Batum is returning to the Los Angeles Clippers, with the team signing the veteran forward along with forward Derrick Jones Jr. and guard Kevin Porter Jr. on Wednesday.

Batum played in 60 games for the Clippers and Philadelphia 76ers last season, averaging 5.3 points, 4.1 rebounds and 2.1 assists. He was part of the trade that brought James Harden to the Clippers.

Harden, who was a free agent, received a two-year deal that includes a player option. The Clippers officially announced Wednesday that he was staying.

Batum, a 35-year-old Frenchman, is one of seven active NBA players with 10,000 points, 5,000 rebounds and 1,500 3-pointers. He was reluctant to leave the Clippers, having credited coach Tyronn Lue with saving his career.

“It’s hard to find a better connector with a higher IQ than Nico,” said Lawrence Frank, Clippers president of basketball operations. “We didn’t want to lose him last year and we felt his absence. He plays the game the right way, which our fans appreciate, and so do we. We’re thrilled to welcome back the battalion.”

Jones averaged a career-high 8.6 points, 3.3 rebounds and one assist in 76 games for the Dallas Mavericks last season. He also started in 22 playoff games — averaging 9.1 points, 3.5 rebounds and 1.2 assists — as the Mavs lost to the Boston Celtics in the NBA Finals.

Jones, 27, has previous stints with Phoenix, Miami, Portland and Chicago. He won the 2020 NBA Slam Dunk contest.

Porter was inactive with Cleveland at the start of the 2020-21 season after an offseason weapons charge, which was later dropped. He was traded to Houston later that season.

In 2023, Porter was charged with felony counts of assault and strangulation after an altercation with a former girlfriend in New York, resulting in a trade to Oklahoma City. The Thunder waived him immediately and he played overseas last season.

Porter reached a plea deal on a misdemeanor reckless assault charge in January that requires him to complete a court-ordered program in order to have his plea changed to not guilty with no criminal record.

In Greece, Porter averaged 22 points, 9.3 rebounds, 6.8 assists and 2.8 steals.

The 24-year-old Seattle native played collegiately at Southern California before being drafted with the 30th overall pick in 2019.

Porter has appeared in 196 games with the Cleveland Cavaliers and Houston Rockets, averaging 15.3 points, 5.0 assists, 4.3 rebounds and 1.1 steals.

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AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/nba

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