The Los Angeles Lakers are adding swingman Kent Bazemore, a longtime nemesis of LeBron James. The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported that Bazemore turned down more money from the Warriors to join the Lakers.
“Bazemore turned down more money and years (two) from the Warriors, sources say, but believes he will have a bigger role and opportunity to win a championship with the Lakers,” Charania tweeted. “Bazemore is betting on himself.”
Bazemore has been taking shots at James dating back to his college days at Old Dominion. Back in 2016, Heavy’s Sean Deveney detailed Bazemore’s rivalry with the NBA superstar.
“Bazemore has long had a chip against James, at least as far as Twitter goes,” Deveney detailed. “Tweets dug up from 2010, when Bazemore was at Old Dominion and still a long way from earning a starting spot on an Eastern Conference playoff team, show some pretty palpable disdain from the college-junior version of Bazemore — he called James some unprintable names, and repeatedly harped on the notion that James lacked the gumption to play well in the fourth quarter.
“‘LeBron is equivalent to 7-11,’ he said in one relatively mild dig. ‘He doesn’t close.’”
There are more intense older NSFW tweets from Bazemore that were directed at James. Whatever rivalry there once was, we can expect James and Bazemore to leave it in the past as the Lakers begin their quest for another championship next season.
Bazemore on James: ‘I Hope He Takes It Personally’
The beef between Bazemore and James was amplified by the players being part of rival shoe companies. Bazemore is an Under Armour athlete, while James is the face of Nike. The newest Lakers guard admitted that the apparel rivalry deepened the tension.
“I hope so. I hope he [James] takes it personally, because I do,” Bazemore told Hawks.com’s Kevin Chouinard in 2016. “I’m an Under Armour guy to the grave, and that’s our competition.”
There have also been exchanges between the two players that happened on the court. Bazemore may be headed for an awkward handshake with James on the first day of training camp.
Bazemore Gives the Lakers Another 3-and-D Option off the Bench
Bazemore averaged 7.2 points, 3.4 rebounds, 1.6 assists and one steal while shooting 40.8% from behind the three-point line last season with the Warriors. He along with Wayne Ellington give the Lakers a pair of shooters, an area of great need heading into the offseason. It is Bazemore’s defense that could prove just as valuable as The Athletic’s Jovan Buha detailed.
“Bazemore, the fourth former Lakers player to sign with the team this offseason, is a 3-and-D wing who helps shore up the team’s suddenly shaky guard defense,” Buha explained. “He’s coming off of a career 3-point shooting season and is a long, pesky defender who can defend one through three and even some smaller fours. He also can handle the ball and be a secondary playmaker, giving the Lakers’ bench — he’s unlikely to start — some additional juice.”
The Lakers signed a handful of veteran wings on the first day of free agency, and it will be interesting to see how Frank Vogel splits up the minutes among the new additions. As for Bazemore, he is going to have some explaining to do on some of his old takes about King James.