Until the calendar flips to 2019, the NBA trade market might be fairly tepid. As usual, there have been trade winds in the early going of the season, with players like George Hill and Trevor Ariza changing teams in interesting maneuvers. However, the real action doesn’t usually arrive until January and February and, for the Atlanta Hawks, there are a few interesting names to monitor.
It comes as no surprise that a team in Atlanta’s position (as a rebuilding club) would be open to moving veterans with an eye toward the future but, on Tuesday evening, Marc Stein of The New York Times (as part of his NBA newsletter) shed some light on a particular face for the Hawks. Stein turned his attention to Kent Bazemore, indicating that the 29-year-old is “generating interest from contending teams that covet a versatile swingman.”
From there, Stein shared that Bazemore is “regarded as a difference-maker” in the current marketplace despite a lofty salary ($19.3 million) for the 2019-20 season and he also referenced the potential for “rumblings” that might include expiring contracts like Jeremy Lin and Dewayne Dedmon. In an overall sense, none of that is terribly surprising to those frantically refreshing the trade machine in December but, in the same breath, it is interesting nonetheless.
Bazemore is likely overpaid at this juncture, as he capitalized on the free agent spending spree of 2016 with a contract worth $70 million over four years. However, he is a starting-caliber wing player and, while it is unlikely in nature, Bazemore could elect to decline his lucrative player option in favor of a multi-year deal if he performs well for the remainder of the season.
Teams aiming to acquire Bazemore’s services would likely plan on paying him (or at least owing him) $19.3 million for next season and, as a result, Stein’s assertion that “contending teams” could be interested makes sense. Franchises that aren’t trying to win on a major level this season likely wouldn’t want to take on a less than desirable contract but, for those with title aspirations, Bazemore can be an immediate help (as a two-way player at a position of great need in the league) and the Hawks are in a position to prioritize the future over the present in any trade.
Given the fact that no specific teams are mentioned in the report, full-fledged trade rumors haven’t yet arrived. Still, this is intriguing language from an established league insider and, if true, it appears that multiple teams could enter the Bazemore derby in the coming weeks.