What the Hawks are hoping to do with Kent Bazemore


Let’s put it out there to start: The move to sign Kent Bazemore to a 4-year, $70 million contract triggered the domino effect that led to this massive reconstruction. It forced the organization to be stingy when trying to re-sign Al Horford eventually leading to his departure. Although, some would say the addition of Dwight Howard is what let Horford out of town. Either way, the Bazemore extension was a major blunder by the front office, and they have been looking for ways out of the contract ever since.

To be fair, Bazemore was handed this healthy contract when is what normal to give borderline starters seventeen million dollars. Yes, that was a thing just two years ago. It is a primary factor to why the league is so top heavy today. The lucky teams are packaging these egregious contracts with picks for financial flexibility in the future. The unlucky ones, like the Hawks with Bazemore, have been forced to suffer more severe consequences.

The number attached to Bazemore prevented the team from making any significant add-ons going forward, ultimately leading to the Hawks pulling the plug on the whole operation. Eleven years of playoff appearances, working to build up a team worthy of making the NBA Finals, down the drain because of one albatross of a contract.

Ok, maybe I am being a little bit dramatic. It’s not like the Hawks were ever legit championship contenders. You could easily look at it from the perspective that this was going to happen anyways and the Bazemore signing just sped up the process. After all, complete rebuilds look to be about the only way to find success in today’s NBA.

Now that the Hawks have unloaded nearly all of their future money off the books, their next task is to find a new home for Bazemore. It will not be easy, as his contract number is up to eighteen million this season and nineteen million in 2019-2020. However, Bazemore had a much better season in the second year of his deal and began to garner some interest from competitors.

The Rockets and Bucks were among possible suitors. Houston makes perfect sense after they lost Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute in free agency. Bazemore would bring a similar presence to Ariza with a little more youth and athleticism. It is likely the Rockets were trying to send back Ryan Anderson in any type of deal which is why the talks never went anywhere. The Bucks, where former coach Mike Budenholzer now resides, also showed interest. Budenholzer was the one who paid Bazemore when he was the President of Basketball Operations for the Hawks.

Though it did not appear any of these talks went very far, it is encouraging that teams are even interested with two years remaining on his deal. The contract will only become easier to trade as it shortens.

Bazemore shot 39.4% from behind the arc last season, by far the highest mark of his career. If he can prove that was no fluke, some team is going to find value in a 40% three-point shooter with athleticism that plays hard defense. Atlanta will probably have to take on a smaller contract in return to make the money work, but could also accumulate some more draft picks. That has been the goal since Travis Schlenk took over as general manager, acquire picks and maintain financial flexibility. The final piece to that puzzle is moving Bazemore.

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