The Atlanta Hawks continue to make moves, completing their sixth trade this offseason. They sent longtime wing Kent Bazemore to the Portland Trailblazers for guard Evan Turner. We analyze and grade the deal, as Travis Schlenk continues to mold the team in his image.
Four days after making a big move up the draft board to select Virginia forward De’Andre Hunter, the Atlanta Hawks made another trade. Now gone is the Hawks most tenured player Kent Bazemore. Kent spent five seasons with the club, averaging 10.4 points, 3.1 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.2 steals per game. He was originally signed away from the Los Angeles Lakers, to a two-year deal by former general manager Danny Ferry. Bazemore was a key member of the 60 win Hawks team in the 2014-15 season, playing in 75 games and starting ten. Kent Bazemore became a starter the next season, and responded by posting career highs for rebounding, true shooting percentage and free throw shooting. This improvement resulted in the Hawks seeing enough potential in Bazemore, to secure his services with a robust four-year, 70 million dollar contract in the summer of 2016.
Unfortunately after inking the lucrative deal, Kent Bazemore saw a decline in every major statistical category, aside from a slight increase in steals and blocks. This caused many fans to question rather resigning him was a mistake. Two seasons ago he bounced back to some degree, persevering through the criticism to post career highs in three-point percentage at 38.4, assists at 3.5 and steals at 1.5. He also averaged 12.9 points, the best scoring season in his Hawks tenure.
Last season the Atlanta Hawks were hoping that Kent Bazemore would be able to string together a second consecutive strong season, after adding Trae Young, a brilliant young playmaker. Though Trae specializes in making players better and helped a lot of Atlanta Hawks players improve, even he could not break the pattern of inconsistency, that Kent Bazemore has been on in these last few seasons. Kent posted his worse numbers since becoming a starter for Atlanta in several categories, such as field goal percentage, two point percentage, three-point percentage, effective field goal percentage, and assists per game. He also committed more fouls per game, than he ever had in Atlanta. He ultimately yielded his starting spot to rookie Kevin Huerter.
Kent Bazemore’s final season in Atlanta was the true definition of hot and cold. On the hot side, he scored 16 or more points in 18 of the 67 games he played, including a career high 32 points on two different occasions. On the cold side, Baze had an unimaginable 30 games in which he failed to score in double figures and 16 games in which he scored five points or less. He played in 31 minutes during the infamous four overtime game against the Chicago Bulls. The Atlanta Hawks scored 161 points in the match up, which was the second highest scoring game in NBA history, and Baze managed just a measly 4 points. Even worse there were three entire games, in which he failed to score a single point. He played a total 42 minutes in those scoreless games. Not only did Kent Bazemore post his worse offensive rating as a starter for the Hawks, scoring 98 points per 100 possessions, he also logged a career worse defensive rating, allowing 112 points per 100 possessions. Mentally he seemed disgruntled more than usual. Bazemore was eighth in the NBA with 12 technical fouls and many came at the most inopportune times late in games. With the Atlanta Hawks drafting two young wing players this year, the writing was on the wall for Baze.
Chris Kirchner, Atlanta Hawks beat writer for the Athletic, tweeted the following statement from Hawks GM Travis Schlenk, once the deal was officially announced: