After something of a breakout season with the Atlanta Hawks, Kent Bazemore established himself as a very good wing player who can shoot, score near the rim and defend. He is going to be one of the more courted players in this free agency, with the New York Knicks, Brooklyn Nets, Dallas Mavericks and New Orleans Pelicans interested in signing him.
Bazemore, almost 27, went undrafted, but made his way up pretty nicely. He put up some nice numbers with a terrible Los Angeles Lakers team through part of the 2013-2014 season, and did his job as a solid backup for the Hawks in 2014-2015, as they finished with the best record in the Eastern conference, losing in the ECF against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
After trading DeMarre Carroll, Bazemore stepped up to take the starting small forward spot and did a good job on both ends of the floor, averaging 11.6 points and 5.1 rebounds per game, shooting 44.1% from the field and hitting 35.7% of his three point shots. His defense might be the thing that makes him even more attractive to teams, who can’t get enough of 3 & D wings, who can play both the small forward and shooting guard positions. More importantly, he can defend multiple positions.
The Hawks have already declared they intend to go after him, saying he’s a big part of their present and future. Bazemore made only $2 million last season. The team “max contract” isn’t thrown in the air when it comes to him, but considering the rising salary cap, it won’t be surprising if he’s looking for around $10 million a season and maybe even more, which is what starters on a playoff team usually expect.
The Nets have been mentioned in connection to Bazemore, simply by being a team suggested to be going after the less obvious options in this free agency, with a more team-oriented vibe. Both the Pelicans and the Knicks, with a new head coach in Jeff Hornacek, are considered to be big admirers. The Dallas Mavericks, who might have to fill the small forward position now that Chandler Parsons is a free agent, will also be competing for his services. Dallas usually get in the picture after the top names reject them. Bazemore might have to wait for the Kevin Durant dust to settle before he gets the deal he wants.