A prime trade candidate will be sidelined to start the new year, as Kent Bazemore has been diagnosed with a right ankle sprain, according to a press release issued by the Hawks. The team’s announcement indicates that Bazemore will be re-evaluated in approximately two weeks.
Bazemore’s absence from Atlanta’s lineup shouldn’t have any real impact on the Eastern Conference playoff race, since the 11-24 Hawks aren’t in contention for a top-eight spot in the East. However, it could affect the team’s spot in the NBA’s reverse standings.
Currently, Atlanta has the fifth-worst record in the NBA, which would give the club a 10.5% chance at the No. 1 overall pick in the spring. The Hawks have also been playing without Taurean Prince, another key swingman dealing with a sprained ankle of his own, so Bazemore’s injury will leave them especially short-handed.
Bazemore had been enjoying one of his most productive seasons so far in 2018/19, averaging a career-high 14.0 PPG to go along with 4.0 RPG, 2.6 APG, and 1.7 SPG. He has been inconsistent from beyond the arc in 2018/19 (32.7%), but came into the year as a 36.0% career three-point shooter.
Bazemore’s ability to make three-pointers and play solid perimeter defense has made him a potential trade target for teams in need of help on the wing. The Rockets and Pelicans have been cited most frequently as possible suitors for the 29-year-old, with a recent report suggesting that Houston has had trade discussions about him.
Still, this ankle injury may compromise the Hawks’ ability to shop Bazemore for at least the next couple weeks. His contract also makes it somewhat challenging to find a viable deal — he has a $18MM+ cap hit this season, followed by a $19.27MM player option for 2019/20.