6:46pm: Despite the Lakers deciding against making Bazemore a restricted free agent, there is mutual interest between the team and guard in his return to LA next season, sources tell Dave McMenamin of ESPNLosAngeles.com.
2:01pm: The Lakers have chosen not to extend a qualifying offer to Kent Bazemore, reports David Pick of Eurobasket.com (on Twitter). As a result of the team’s decision, Bazemore will become an unrestricted free agent, and Los Angeles will receive a cap hold of $915,243 on their books.
Bazemore was shipped from Golden State to LA near the deadline last season, and he proved to be a valuable rotation piece for the Lakers. He averaged 13.1 points in 28.0 minutes per game while shooting 45% from the field.
Los Angeles wants as much cap flexibility as possible to increase their odds at signing Carmelo Anthony and/or LeBron James this summer, according to Pick (Twitter link). It’s unlikely that the decision to refrain from extending a qualifying offer to Bazemore will be the deciding factor in landing either of the superstars, but the move will provide slightly more breathing room nonetheless.