UPDATE: The Hawks have officially announced the deal.
After a flurry of activity surrounding the 2019 NBA Draft, things appeared to be dying down, at least to some degree, for the Atlanta Hawks as free agency looms on June 30. However, the relative peace came to a crashing end on Monday afternoon, with ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reporting that the Hawks have agreed on a deal that would send veteran wing Kent Bazemore to the Portland Trail Blazers in exchange for Evan Turner.
Portland is trading Evan Turner to Atlanta for Kent Bazemore, league source tells ESPN.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 24, 2019
Moments later, Turner acknowledged the deal on Twitter.
And if you lookin for the kid, I’ll be in zone 6 https://t.co/Ju1qIiMtgQ— Evan Turner (@thekidet) June 24, 2019
Later in the day, the Hawks formally announced the deal.
Bazemore is scheduled to make $19,269,662 for the 2019-20 season after exercising his lucrative player option, with Turner set to earn $18,606,556 in the final year of a (very) similar four-year deal signed in the summer of 2016.
Bazemore is the longest-tenured member of the Hawks roster, arriving before the 2014-15 season. After a two-year stint in a supporting capacity, the former Old Dominion standout inked a four-year, $70 million contract that, unfortunately, made him regular fodder in trade rumors. With front office turnover and a full-fledged rebuild during his tenure, Bazemore’s name was often included in trade rumblings, and the buzz came to fruition with this move.
“We are appreciative of Kent’s contributions to the Hawks organization and to the greater Atlanta community over the last five years,” said Schlenk. “We wish him and his family all the best in Portland.”
As for Turner, the former No. 2 overall pick is now 30 years old and his productivity has declined in recent seasons. The Hawks will experience (mild) savings in the swap but, from a fit perspective, Turner is able to theoretically function in a hybrid forward role (with the potential for ball-handling responsibilities), though he does not bring the floor-spacing element — Turner is a 29.6 percent career shooter from three-point range — of Bazemore.
“We are happy to add Evan to our team, a veteran who we believe can help our club,” said Schlenk. “The versatility he has shown throughout his career will be valuable for us this season.”
In the end, this is a bit of a curious decision for the Hawks in that Bazemore is a superior player to Turner, at least in the mind of this writer. There could be an element of the organization doing a long-time veteran a favor, with Bazemore seemingly pegged for a larger role in Portland, while the Hawks have an overflowing cupboard of available wings after the addition of De’Andre Hunter, Cam Reddish, Allen Crabbe and Solomon Hill in recent days. Beyond that, there is the potential for Turner to fill something of a need as a backup “point guard” option (at least in the sense of ball-handling offensively) and that should be seen as at least a contributing factor.
Bazemore’s tenure in Atlanta is now over, though, and it will be interesting to see how the Hawks approach their roster, particularly when it comes to the next step(s) with Turner.