Amid the whirlwind of rumors that heralded the dawn of free agency yesterday, one tweet stood out from the rest:
The Hawks, Nets, and Rockets are reportedly engaged in a bidding war for Bazemore’s services, with the Timberwolves, Grizzlies, and a few other teams in close pursuit. Houston is pulling out all the stops for him:
Hakeem Olajuwon. Clyde Drexler. James Harden. We aren’t talking about the Kevin Durant sweepstakes here — this is an attempt to recruit Kent freaking Bazemore, an undrafted journeyman best known for serving as the Warriors’ Chief Bench Celebrations Officer and luring Steph Curry to Under Armour. Never mind that he’s played just one season as a regular starter — this was the perfect time for him to become a free agent.
Don’t get me wrong: Bazemore has showed promise as a swingman, and his game is uniquely suited for the modern NBA, especially with Mike D’Antoni in Houston. His photobomb game is strong, and he’s reputed to be a great locker room guy. Those are all nice things to have. But $20 million?!?!?! For a dude who averaged 11.6 points, 5.1 rebounds, and 2.3 assists on 27.8 minutes per game in his best season? He better get his agent a damn tasty fruit basket.
Bazemore isn’t the only journeyman getting a big raise this summer: Timofey Mozgov just inked a four-year, $64 million deal with the Lakers; Jeremy Lin extorted $36 million over three years from the Nets; and Evan Turner practically bankrupted the Trail Blazers. Then again, these contracts are mere chump change compared to what guys like LeBron James and Kevin Durant are expected to fetch on the open market next year, should they both sign “one-and-one” deals. A windfall of TV money is causing the NBA’s salary cap to skyrocket, and as a result, baseball numbers are the new normal. Bazemore, of all people, has become the avatar of this sea change, and I doubt he’s complaining.