At February’s NBA trade deadline, the Los Angeles Lakers traded Steve Blake to the Golden State Warriors in exchange for MarShon Brooks and Kent Bazemore. While Brooks was expected to be part of the rotation with so many injuries in the backcourt, it was Bazemore who emerged and actually started 15 of the 23 games.
Although Bazemore showed potential during his short time with the Lakers, the team will not be extending the 24-year-old a qualifying offer to make him a restricted free agent according to ESPN Los Angeles’ Dave McMenamin:
“Part of the strategy session involved informing Kent Bazemore that they will not be extending the 24-year-old swingman a $1.11 million qualifying offer to make him a restricted free agent, a league source confirmed to ESPNLosAngeles.com.”
While this comes as a surprise, both parties are still interested in Bazemore returning next season:
“Even though Bazemore will now be allowed to sign with any team he chooses without the Lakers having the ability to match any competing offer and still retain him, “both parties are interested” in him returning to L.A., a league source told ESPNLosAngeles.com.”
While Bazemore did not see much playing time with the Warriors in his first two seasons, he was given a chance by Mike D’Antoni to play major minutes. In 23 games with the Lakers, Bazemore averaged 13.1 points, 3.3 rebounds, and 3.1 assists in 28.0 minutes.
For the Lakers, they are evaluating all of their options as the franchise is entering their most important off-season in nearly a decade. While there is a possibility Bazemore returns, Los Angeles is looking to create as much cap space as possible to lure free agents like LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony.
Heading into free agency, the Lakers currently have enough cap space to sign a player to a max contract and are looking to hopefully shed more by trading away Steve Nash’s contract.
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