LOS ANGELES — As the Los Angeles Lakers inch closer to the end of the season, many players on the team are making their final cases to be in the organization’s future plans.
One of those players who will become a free agent this upcoming offseason is Kent Bazemore.
The 24-year-old was acquired at February’s trade deadline in a deal that sent him along with MarShon Brooks to Los Angeles in exchange for Steve Blake. Since joining the Lakers, he has made the most of his opportunity to play as he has set career highs in points (23), made field goals (nine), rebounds (seven), steals (six), assists (eight), and also made his first career start.
Bazemore has been a consistent scoring punch in his month and half as a Laker as he was averaging 13.7 points in 21 games played entering Friday’s game against the Dallas Mavericks. This also includes scoring in double figures in all but four games with Los Angeles.
As for head coach Mike D’Antoni, he has not only been Bazemore’s performance on the court that impresses him, but also his hard work in other areas to get better.
“He is the best,” D’Antoni said prior to Friday’s game. “He comes in to film session with the young guys and is there every day asking questions and doing (what he has to do). When he plays, watch him, his activity is off the charts sometimes its in the wrong play or wrong thing but that’s what happens to young guys.
“This has been for him a very lucky (situation) that he got traded here where he can play. He has had an opportunity here and he is making the most of it.”
D’Antoni is correct when he states that Bazemore has been fortunate to land with a team where he had the chance to play right away in a significant role. Prior to his move to the Lakers, the 24-year-old was buried on the Warriors’ bench behind players such as Harrison Barnes, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and Andre Iguodala which did not allow him to showcase what he can bring to the table for the team.
However, Bazemore was able to display his potential in last year’s summer league as he helped the Warriors claim the Summer League Championship,which those seven games played he averaged 18.4 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 3.1 assists in 30.1 minutes per game.
It has been a difficult road for the second-year guard, but as he had the opportunity to show what he can provide to a team, all that is left to prove over these few remaining games that he has the ability to play effective in a significant role. But for Bazemore, he is not worried about that as he is more focused on what he can control: That is giving it his all on and off the court.
“I think that’ll take care of itself as long as you play a winning style of basketball,” Bazemore said. “The record doesn’t show the type of character that guy shave in this locker room. A lot of guys are making championship effort or game-winning effort plays and I think that stuff will handle itself.
“Every guy works hard every day, so it’s up to the front office to pick the team. I have no control over it. All I can do is go out there and play hard.”
Bazemore will become a free agent this offseason and the Lakers can retain him with a qualifying offer of $1,115,243 for next season. Although it is a inexpensive price for a player with his potential, Los Angeles ultimately holds the 24-year-old’s fate if he will be a Laker next year or not. That ball is in their court, it will be interesting to watch what decision they make.
Photo Credit: Robyn Beck / AFP/Getty Images / February 21, 2014 )