Baze is back: Hawks guard plays in scrimmage

The Atlanta Hawks signed Kent Bazemore to a 2-year contract in the offseason.
The Atlanta Hawks signed Kent Bazemore to a 2-year contract in the offseason.

Credit: Associated Press

Credit: Associated Press

Kent Bazemore got a surprise – one six months in the making – Wednesday.

The Hawks guard thought he was in for a normal day of limited practice as part of his rehabilitation from foot surgery. However, when the team took to the court for a five-on-five full-contact scrimmage, his name was called.

The words ‘Baze, you’re in’ never sounded so good.

“To my surprise I was able to get into a few gaps and defensively I was very active,” Bazemore said after practice. “I guarded Kyle Korver today and everyone knows how active he is. I took it upon myself to chase him around, get hit on some screens, try to beat myself up. It was very encouraging. I couldn’t ask for a better measuring stick.”

The Hawks signed Bazemore to a two-year, $4 million contract as a free agent coming off injury this summer after he split the season with the Warriors and Lakers. In his 23 games (15 starts) with the Lakers, he averaged 13.1 points, 3.3 rebounds and 3.1 assists in 28.0 minutes. During that time he set single-game career highs in points (23, twice), assists (eight), rebounds (seven) and steals (six). He suffered a right foot injury that ended his season April 7. Nine days later he underwent surgery to repair the peroneus longus tendon.

And so began the long road back.

The Hawks expect Bazemore to be ready for the start of the regular season. He said his foot is fully healed and just needs to get back into basketball shape. As with Al Horford, who also participated in the five-one-five scrimmage, the team is being cautious with their recoveries.

“Each day they are making a little bit of progress,” coach Mike Budenholzer said. “You always want to evaluate them to see how they come back the next day. You might even intentionally do a little bit less. We’ll see how they feel. But I think, luckily, they seem to be making the appropriate steps and progress that we want them to make.”

Bazemore said he played about two minutes and was “a little winded.” He credited the Hawks coaching and training staff for bringing him along at a proper pace. However, he’s eager to get back on the court on a regular basis. He’s come a long way since he reported to Atlanta this summer and couldn’t dunk a basketball while playing in open gym sessions. That hasn’t been an issue of late as he surprised some teammates during recent pre-training camp workouts.

“You have to keep something up your sleeve,” Bazemore joked.

The Hawks are looking for Bazemore to add depth to the wing position. His exact role is still to be determined with Thabo Sefolosha behind starter DeMarre Carroll. The Hawks will ask all three to be defensive stoppers.

Bazemore said he got a good glimpse of what is to come during his brief time on the court Wednesday.

“I got a chance to play with Thabo today,” Bazemore said. “We were both on the same team. The chemistry was great. I remember one play where they ran a cross screen to a pin down. He automatically switched. His man was in the corner. He took the guy going up and I went straight to the corner. That’s the things you find very rarely. We clicked just like that.

“The potential we have as a dynamic defensive duo is outrageous.”

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