Lakers News: Kent Bazemore Agrees to 1-Year Contract to Join LeBron James in LA

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistAugust 3, 2021

Golden State Warriors forward Kent Bazemore (26) in action during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Washington Wizards, Wednesday, April 21, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
Nick Wass/Associated Press

Veteran wing Kent Bazemore agreed to a one-year contract with the Los Angeles Lakers, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium.

USA Today's Mark Medina reported the Golden State Warriors put more money on the table for Bazemore, who opted for the Lakers because he believes he'll have a bigger role there and a better shot at a title.

The Lakers have been active on the first day of the free-agent negotiating period, and the short duration of Bazemore's deal mimics the team's other business.

ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported Los Angeles agreed to one-year contracts with Trevor Ariza and Dwight Howard, while Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports reported they added Wayne Ellington for the same term.

General manager Rob Pelinka has worked quickly to address the depth the team lost by agreeing to trade Kyle Kuzma, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Montrezl Harrell to the Washington Wizards for Russell Westbrook.

Bazemore made 67 appearances for the Warriors in 2020-21, averaging 7.2 points and 3.4 rebounds in 19.9 minutes on the floor. He also shot 44.9 percent from the field and 40.8 percent from beyond the arc.

One of his best games came in a 118-114 loss to the Washington Wizards on April 21. He narrowly missed out on a double-double, finishing with 19 points, nine rebounds, six steals and three assists.

The Atlanta Hawks made a big bet on Bazemore when the salary cap spiked during the 2016 offseason, handing him a four-year, $70 million deal. The gamble didn't pay off as the 31-year-old remained a solid rotation player but not one worth $17.5 million annually.

Somewhat fittingly, the Hawks swapped Bazemore for Evan Turner, somebody who signed an equally unwieldy contract with the Portland Trail Blazers in 2016, ahead of the 2019-20 season.

Those years in Atlanta largely served to cement his role in the NBA.

Bazemore is a 35.6 percent three-point shooter for his career, but he got up to 39.4 percent with the Hawks in 2017-18 before a personal-best 40.8 percent clip with Golden State this past season. According to NBA.com, he hit 42.2 percent of his catch-and-shoot threes, which is a valuable skill for somebody who plays off the ball.

The 6'4" swingman was a nuisance on the defensive end, too. Per NBA.com, he held opponents to 33.0 percent shooting from beyond the arc and 34.3 percent on shots from more than 15 feet.

Speaking with Alex Kramers of the Sacramento Kings' official site in February 2020, Bazemore explained how defense was "all I've known, pretty much, growing up":

"I was never on any high-scoring teams. In high school we scored, like, 45 points a night; college was low-to-mid 60s. So it was always a physical style of play, defensive, just stopping other teams. That was our focus every night. We were never really focused on offense. Just running good sets and moving the ball, and then defensively, is where I learned how to make an impact on the game."

He added how he had watched defensive stoppers such as Gary Payton, Bruce Bowen, Shane Battier and Tony Allen to mold his game.

Finding proficient three-and-D wings is easier said than done since that combination of skills is so highly coveted across the NBA. That archetype applies to Bazemore, especially if his perimeter shooting with the Warriors carries over into 2021-22.