Kent Bazemore has received more than his fair share of grief for the monster four-year, $70 million deal he signed after the 2015-2016 season. Of course, that was during the era of the NBA where everyone was being handed outrageous contracts – even role players – because of the expected cap spike at that time. Unfortunately, that spike NBA teams were counting on never really came to fruition, turning a lot of these contracts into egregious liabilities.
That tends to happen when handing a player who has never averaged more than 12 points a game in his career a $70 million contract. Nonetheless, Bazemore’s deal is beginning to wind down, and there’s no denying he can be a valuable piece to a competing NBA team.
The Hawks love Bazemore because he’s one of the lone veterans on the roster helping their young talent. He’s also one of their better players on the court, averaging a career-high 13.6 points per game on 44.2% shooting while possessing playmaking skills and being the Hawks best on-ball defender. Not to mention, Bazemore is one of the few players that actually seems intent on finishing his career in Atlanta.
But according to NBA reporter Marc Stein of the New York Times, Bazemore is beginning to attract some suitors on the trade market.
“The Hawks like Bazemore for both his on-court production and his veteran presence in a young Atlanta locker room. But he’s generating interest from contending teams that covet a versatile-swingman.
The interest in Bazemore – in addition to the longstanding rumblings about the expiring Hawks contracts of Jeremy Lin ($13.7 million) and Dewayne Dedmon ($7.2 million) – comes even with one more season left on his contract after this one at a heady $19.3 million. Which tells you that, in this marketplace, he’s regarded as a difference-maker.”
The Hawks are trying to accomplish three things this season outside of landing a top pick: they want to see development among their young pieces, acquire more future assets any way possible and rid of as much money as they can off the books. By trading Bazemore, they are killing two of those birds with one stone.
Teams looking at Bazemore, at this point, should not come as a surprise. We’ve seen the type of value being placed on wing players that can contribute on both sides of the floor like Trevor Ariza and P.J. Tucker (just ask the Rockets how life without Ariza has been). Bazemore is a similar type of player except several years younger with much more ability off the dribble. For competing teams, like the Rockets, Thunder, and others, he could be the perfect complimentary piece to their big stars.
However, no matter how important Bazemore might be to a contending team, I don’t see anyone able to or willing to take on the nearly $20 million he is owed next season. In a potential trade, the Hawks will definitely have to eat some of that money by taking on a contract or two of their own.
With that being the case, a team will have to offer at least a first-round pick in return for Bazemore. Even though that pick will probably be a late one, it becomes yet another asset the Hawks have under their belt. This is something Atlanta will be exploring until the trade deadline.