What Are The Kings Getting In Kent Bazemore

(Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)
(Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images) /

Trevor Ariza’s Sacramento Kings’ career was short-lived, as the Kings have traded him as part of a package to Portland for Kent Bazemore and others.

It was fairly obvious that the Sacramento Kings were going to make at least one move before the February 6th trade deadline, and they kick off the season by trading away Trevor Ariza following 32 games for him in royal purple.

The Kings dealt Trevor Ariza, Wenyen Gabriel, and ex-Trail Blazer Caleb Swanigan to Portland for Kent Bazemore, ex-King Anthony Tolliver, and 2024 and 2025 second-rounders.

Both Bazemore and Tolliver are on expiring deals, and Sacramento continues to stockpile future second-rounders, now owning seven seconds, excluding their own.

Swanigan will return to Portland just one year after being traded to Sacramento for Skal Labissiere. Gabriel, who has shown promise in Stockton recently, will also be moved to Portland and hopefully can find himself minutes within an injury-riddled frontcourt.

But the main aspect of this deal is the Trevor Ariza – Kent Bazemore swap.

Ariza had an underwhelming performance in a Kings’ uniform, somewhat expectedly after viewing his production and effort levels fall off a cliff during his time in Washington and Phoenix. Ariza’s 35% shooting numbers along with mixed results on the defensive end had many, myself included, preferring to see rookie Justin James on the floor.

Comparably, Bazemore’s shooting percentages are all worse than Ariza’s this season, but their styles differ in a fashion that could benefit the Kings. Bazemore is exemplary in transition, Sacramento having picked up the pace as of late, and he spent the majority of his career representing the speedy Atlanta Hawks.

Bazemore is a more effective ball-handler than Ariza, while also being four years younger. He has a greater ability to put the ball on the floor and attack closeouts yet can be turnover prone at times which certainly does not help a Sacramento team that is already one of the 10th poorest teams in that regard.

The ninth year wing has his issues finishing at the rim, particularly this season where he is finishing merely 37.4% of his attempts per Cleaning the Glass, which is good enough for dead last on Sacramento’s roster, but that number should increase marginally.

Bazemore is noticeably more of an athlete than Ariza at this point in their careers with a quick first step, higher hops, and greater lateral quickness, which fares well for the defensive side of the ball. At the time of his departure, Bazemore is second on Portland’s roster in defensive rating out of players with significant minutes as well as the 10th best shooting guard in the league in ESPN’s defensive real plus-minus.

Bazemore can initiate an offense, and Luke Walton’s system is clearly more catered towards well-rounded players rather than specialists (see Buddy Hield). Ariza was running a pick-and-roll far too often for my liking, and Bazemore is comfortable in that role.

As for journeyman Anthony Tolliver, he is now the elder man on the roster at 34 years of age, and he certainly produces like it. This season, he has tallied 10 DNP-CDs in Portland along with eight games of less than 10 minutes, with most of his play coming due to injuries to the rest of the roster. Do not expect much from Tolliver aside from the occasional three-pointer, where he is shooting just 33.7% from deep — his worst percentage since the 2011-12 season.

It is sad to see Wenyen Gabriel move on, but there should be more opportunities for the Kentucky-alum in Portland. He averaged 19.3 points and 8.9 rebounds on 55.4% from the field and 46.2% from three during his 7 games this season in Stockton, yet did not get much of a shot outside of garbage time minutes on the Sacramento roster.

The 2024 and 2025 second-rounder acquired could be used in a trade down the line, and Sacramento also have four second-round picks in 2020 at their disposal. Don’t expect this to be the last trade Sacramento makes before the deadline, it could not even be the final trade of the day as rumors continue to float around disgruntled center Dewayne Dedmon.

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The trade with Portland is not able to be made official until January 21st due to signing restrictions on Gabriel’s deal, so expect some minutes for Justin James until Bazemore and Tolliver become available on Tuesday.