Kent Bazemore explains why he didn’t sign with Lakers
Atlanta Hawks swingman Kent Bazemore had an opportunity to return to the Los Angeles Lakers as a free agent this past offseason but chose not to, and now we know why.
Bazemore, who rejected a four-year, $72 million offer from the Lakers over the summer, admitted on Wednesday that the decision was partly because of how the team declined to extend him a $1.1 million qualifying offer in 2014.
“One thing you want in this league is to be wanted. They didn’t pick it up for that little amount of money,” Bazemore said, per Mark Medina of the Orange County Register. “So that showed how much they believed in me and my abilities. That closed that chapter.”
The 27-year-old Bazemore was traded to the Lakers in February 2014 and made 23 appearances for them, averaging 13.1 points, 3.3 rebounds, and 3.1 assists per game. But their failure to extend Bazemore a qualifying offer after the season made him a restricted free agent, and he wound up signing a two-year, $6 million deal with the Hawks. He then took less money to return to Atlanta this past summer, spurning the Lakers’ attempts to win him back.
Ever since his brief stint in Los Angeles, Bazemore has blossomed into a dynamic two-way wing, starting 68 games for the 48-win Hawks last season. For a Lakers team that gave $72 million to an aged Luol Deng this offseason and that continues to play Nick Young and Lou Williams heavy rotation minutes, it’s probably safe to say they’d like to take a mulligan with Bazemore.