The Lakers were looking to spend money this summer — they gave Timofey Mozgov $64 million. That’s spending. Luol Deng also got a healthy paycheck from Los Angels. The idea was to put quality veterans around the Lakers young core and start to speed up the development process, and win a few more games.
Kent Bazemore would have helped with that, but he wouldn’t give the Lakers the time of day this summer. The Lakers offered four-years, $72 million, he took a couple fewer million to stay in Atlanta.
After joking he made the move to save on taxes, Bazemore acknowledged his decision partly stemmed from the Lakers declining a $1.1 million qualifying offer to make him a restricted free agent in 2014. After striking out on James, Anthony and Gasol, the Lakers also narrowed in on Jeremy Lin, Nick Young and Jordan Hill before pursuing Bazemore. He agreed to a two-year deal worth $6 million with Atlanta shortly afterward.
“One thing you want in this league is to be wanted. They didn’t pick it up for that little amount of money,” Bazemore said. “So that showed how much they believed in me and my abilities. That closed that chapter.”
Declining a qualifying offer for a player is essentially saying “he’s not going to work out.” Even with the cap hold, it’s a relatively low-cost move to keep the rights of a player (as a restricted free agent the Lakers would have had the option to match any offer Bazemore got in 2014). The Lakers didn’t see Bazemore as worth it or part of the direction they were heading.
In Atlanta Bazemore has blossomed into a solid rotation wing player that knows how to use his athleticism. Would he have done that under Byron Scott and the Lakers’ development program? Good question, but it’s moot. He’s a Hawk now and wants to stay there.