The Brooklyn Nets have made three key trades this summer. With some cap space and assets left, could one more be on the horizon?
The departure of Paul Millsap has signaled the start of the Atlanta Hawks’ rebuild. After winning 60 games in 2015, point guard Dennis Schroder and swingman Kent Bazemore are the only building blocks left over from that squad.
Given the state of the franchise, could the Hawks move Bazemore to the Brooklyn Nets to completely wipe their books for next summer?
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Last July, Bazemore and the Hawks agreed to a four-year, $70-million deal. Before signing that contract, TNT’s David Aldridge reported that the Brooklyn Nets were among Bazemore’s many suitors. His prior relationship with Kenny Atkinson put them in the running, but, in the end, a deal never materialized.
Nets also working hard on Kent Bazemore—another former Atkinson connection, per source. But Rockets’ presentation late Thursday was strong.
— David Aldridge (@daldridgetnt) July 1, 2016
Once deemed a first rate three-and-D wing, the forward disappointed during the first year of his new deal.
With Atlanta moving forward from the ground up, a Bazemore trade is something they have to consider. He’s owed $17.5 million annually over the next three campaigns, and getting that off their books would put them in perfect position to start new.
More importantly, less talent means fewer wins. If Atlanta wants to become the worst team in the conference, the Brooklyn Nets could be the key.
Despite being an optimal addition to a growing young team, trading for Kent Bazemore comes with strings attached.
First, the Nets would need to move the salary to acquire him from Atlanta. That likely means saying goodbye to veteran forward Trevor Booker, who was a valuable role player down the stretch of last year.
Brooklyn would also have to renounce the rights to guard Randy Foye. That puts them right the window to put Bazemore’s deal on the books.
Second, Brooklyn’s salary will get kind of tricky in the seasons following. With Bazemore, they’d have five guys under contract through 2018-2019 for a total that’s about $80 million: Allen Crabbe, Timofey Mozgov, Jeremy Lin, Carroll and then Bazemore.
That then eliminates the chances of making a splash in free agency. Of course, there’s always the possibility of a trade.
Third, this is a sizeable risk. The salary used to acquire Bazemore could create significant problems down the road. His last season did see a decline in production. Should he not rebound, it could prove costly for the Nets.
Trading for Bazemore locks their squad in for the years to come but provides little-to-no flexibility in cap space. Those are some negatives that could serve as a deal breaker for General Manager Sean Marks.
For the Brooklyn Nets, Kent Bazemore presents the opportunity to further push for the playoffs. This acquisition would be the icing on a cake that fans can eat for years, and the Nets would finally return to being an entertaining team.
One factor that plays into securing the Hawks forward is the release of Booker. That would open up more minutes for Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and summer acquisition DeMarre Carroll. Booker was a valuable role piece but would be even more valuable in this trade that benefits the future of the franchise.
In Bazemore, Brooklyn receives an above-average defender and an average scorer. He’s also developed into a decent three-point threat and his shooting 35.4 percent since coming to Atlanta. He showed those flashes last year against the Cleveland Cavaliers, where he dropped a season-high 25 points while shooting 8-of-13 from the field.
One of the most important ingredients in a Nets’ playoff push is depth. Adding Bazemore in place of Booker creates a new roster with a further level of depth. In theory, Brooklyn would have six potential starters.
The idea of adding Bazemore to this already competent roster would make Eastern Conference heads turn.
Your move, Sean Marks.
Kent Bazemore is a reliable, young player. He’s an average shooter with defensive capabilities and is fit to orchestrate the Nets’ rebuild at age 28.
Last season he played 73 games, averaging 11.0 points and 1.2 steals a night.