As expected, the first day of free agency started off with a bang as several players either signed lucrative new deals or found themselves in different cities. The Miami Heat and Chicago Bulls should be considered early winners after landing Kyle Lowry and Lonzo Ball, respectively, while the Dallas Mavericks and New York Knicks splurged on several players to bolster their rosters.
The Los Angeles Lakers started the evening strong by reportedly coming to agreements with Trevor Ariza, Wayne Ellington, and Dwight Howard but inconceivably allowed Alex Caruso to walk to the Bulls. The Lakers had full Bird Rights on Caruso and could have easily re-signed him, but instead, the guard goes to Chicago on a reported four-year, $37 million deal.
With Caruso off the roster, Los Angeles is now down its best perimeter defenders from the 2020-21 campaign and will need to find ways to remedy that void. However, it looks like they had a contingency plan in place as they reportedly are bringing in another familiar face, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic:
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) August 3, 2021
Kent Bazemore spent half of the 2013-14 season with the Lakers after being traded from the Golden State Warriors in exchange for Steve Blake. Despite showing some promise as a wing, the Lakers did not re-sign him, and he went to the Atlanta Hawks, where he would eventually sign a rich four-year, $70 million deal. However, Bazemore would later be traded to the Portland Trail Blazers and the Warriors right after that.
With Golden State, Bazemore played a minimal bench role for them though he did start 18 games during the regular season. In total, he played in 67 games, averaging 7.2 points, 3.0 rebounds, 1.6 assists, and 1.0 steals in 19.9 minutes a game. However, he did shoot a career-high 40.8 percent from beyond the arc, albeit on only 2.7 attempts a night.
All in all, the reunion with the Lakers is more than welcomed, given they need anyone who can credibly shoot from outside and offer some resistance as a wing defender. Bazemore is a worthwhile addition and should play a role in the rotation next season.
Lakers sign Trevor Ariza
Aside from Bazemore, the Lakers were also able to bring back Trevor Ariza. After trading away Kyle Kuzma and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, L.A. was short on bigger bodies who can check opposing wings, so having Ariza and Bazemore in tow at least addresses that need a bit.