One of the teams that will be interesting to follow this summer will be the Los Angeles Lakers. They have cap space to make some interesting additions, while there were a few young players who probably deserve another year on the team. Kent Bazemore might be one of them, as long as no one offers him too much money.
The 24-year old who played his college basketball at Old Dominion started last season with the Golden State Warriors, the team that drafted him. He didn’t get a lot of playing time in Northern California, so he was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers where he seemed to have done enough to ensure his NBA career to last a little bit longer instead of falling back into the D-League circuit or moving to try his fortune in Europe.
Bazemore averaged 13.1 points, 3.3 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 1.3 steals, even getting to start in 15 of the 23 games he played, as the Lakers helped some young guys post some nice numbers thanks to Mike D’Antoni’s offensive system. It didn’t really help the franchise get wins, but Bazemore was one of the few who actually showed some defensive will and ability during his short time on the team, shooting an impressive 37.1% from beyond the arc.
So athletic, defensive minded, doesn’t mind coming up from the bench and can stretch the floor. What is that worth? Bazemore is going to be a restricted free agent, and his offer sheet is quite nominal at $1.11 million. The Lakers have a very good chance of locking him up for one year (they’re planning on giving everyone one-year deals except for that one big signing they’re after), and even if another team offers him two they’ll match it.
When won’t they match it? If the offer to Bazemore becomes about more than $2 million a season. Teams like the Wizards, Bobcats, Jazz and Suns could use another athletic guard coming off the bench and adding to their game in a number of ways, so paying him something they know the Lakers won’t match sounds like a good idea, especially if they believe there’s a lot more to come after what he showed last season.
It’s hard to say what to expect of the Lakers next season. Hardly anyone is still signed except for Kobe Bryant and the possibly retiring Steve Nash. They have cap space to make a big signing like Carmelo Anthony, if he even opts out. Laker fans are probably dreaming of LeBron James suddenly opting out of his deal and making that move, but right now that doesn’t seem even close to realistic. Signing guys in Bazemore’s caliber seems to be the thing to expect. It’s not bad, but it certainly isn’t great.