Kent Bazemore agreed to sign with the Atlanta Hawks on July 1st but that, of course, does not mean that he wasn’t bombarded with impressive offers from other NBA teams. One of those clubs, the Los Angeles Lakers, actually exceeded Atlanta’s offer by presenting a 4-year, $72 million deal, but Bazemore elected to take the (small) discount in remaining with the Hawks.
On Wednesday evening, Bazemore was asked about the reasoning behind that decision, and he revealed a bit of his motivation to Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News/Orange County Register:
“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. “So that showed how much they believed in me and my abilities. That closed that chapter.”
The Lakers had the opportunity to provide Bazemore with a $1.1 million qualifying offer to simply make him a restricted free agent, but the club declined to do so. Given that Bazemore later signed with the Hawks for more money on a per-year basis, that move looks silly in retrospect, especially given the player that Bazemore has become and what declining an option of that size says about the franchise’s feelings toward that player.
It is important to note, though, that Bazemore doesn’t appear to have explicit disdain for the Lakers and he spoke about that to Medina:
“I still thank the organization for giving me a chance to go out and show I can play,” Bazemore said. “There’s no bad blood. But from the business side, they had their chance.”
Bazemore asserted that “it didn’t make sense to leave and tear down what (he) built (in Atlanta)” and, ultimately, it probably matters that the Lakers are in rebuilding mode when compared to the Hawks as a perennial playoff team. Still, this revelation speaks to the fact that loyalty still exists on some level in the NBA and that players like Kent Bazemore can and will be motivated by external slights over long periods of time.