Clippers miss out on Kent Bazemore, who chooses Golden State

Sacramento Kings' Kent Bazemore (26) reacts after scoring against the Los Angeles Clippers during the first half of an NBA basketball game Saturday, Feb. 22, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Sacramento Kings’ Kent Bazemore reacts after scoring against the Clippers on Feb. 22 at Staples Center. (Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press)

The Clippers reinforced their frontcourt to begin free agency but missed a chance to do the same to their backcourt Sunday when free agent Kent Bazemore agreed to a one-year contract with the Golden State Warriors.

The 6-foot-5 wing, who averaged 8.8 points and 4.3 rebounds per game last season with Portland and Sacramento, was one of the first players the Clippers contacted when free agency opened Friday. The team discussed offering its bi-annual exception worth $3.6 million to Bazemore, according to three people not authorized to speak publicly.

The 31-year-old Bazemore chose to reunite with Stephen Curry, a close friend since they were teammates on the Warriors from 2012-14. His one-year deal with the Warriors will be worth $2.3 million, according to the Athletic.

Bazemore made 38% of his three-pointers last season and is a career 35% three-point shooter. But his appeal for the Clippers also lay in the defensive upgrade he would have represented for a second unit that leaked points during the postseason when using certain lineups. Bazemore’s 6-11 wingspan allows him to guard larger players, and was a key reason why he was viewed as a patch to plug the hole behind Kawhi Leonard on the Clippers’ depth chart.

Another candidate to add wing depth agreed to go elsewhere too on Sunday when Torrey Craig committed to Milwaukee.

When Denver pulled its qualifying offer to the 6-7 Craig on Saturday, the Clippers initially showed interest in the 29-year-old whose defense off the bench helped Denver advance to September’s Western Conference finals. Talks never progressed, however.

While the Clippers’ search for wing depth continues they shored up a key need late Saturday night by agreeing to sign Toronto’s Serge Ibaka on a two-year contract worth $19 million, a deal that will use the team’s full mid-level exception that will earn the 7-footer $9.3 million next season. By using that exception the team triggered the league’s so-called hard cap that will not allow payroll to exceed $138 million.

Ibaka’s agreement was viewed as a surprise victory for the Clippers, with multiple league observers believing Ibaka’s price range would go beyond what the team could offer. He immediately represents an upgrade to the team’s interior defense and offensive versatility and his experience and shot-blocking could make him a fit for closing lineups under new coach Tyronn Lue.

The Clippers have also signed starting forward Marcus Morris and forward Patrick Patterson since free agency opened Friday.

Free agency contracts can be announced by teams and made official Sunday.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.

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