At Monday’s 5 P.M. deadline, no reports came out of the Oklahoma City Thunder and Darius Bazley coming to an agreement on a rookie contract extension. Barring any further reports, one can assume that Bazley will enter the upcoming free agency as a restricted free agent, making this season that much more important for Bazley.
The 2019 draft pick has been up and down through his three years in the league and will have to spend this season proving his value. Entering RFA may be in Bazley’s best interest though, as he’s not locked down to a long-term contract that is underpaying him. Now, he gets the opportunity to earn himself more money in the next offseason.
In his three seasons, the 6-foot-8 forward averaged 10.0 points per game on 47% from the field and 30.5% on 3-pointers. His best qualities are his ability to drive, when done efficiently, and play solid defense on a variety of positions. Bazley hasn’t been able to score at high volume and high efficiency through three years, and his future role with the team seems to be lowering to a solid role player with stand-up defense.
As a young player, Bazley brought high upside, but it seems as if his best future role is a starter who can play alongside the Thunder’s young stars. His starting position is not safe, though, as Aleksej Pokusevksi is due for a breakout season as well.
The best-case scenario for the Thunder is that they retain Bazley in free agency on a team-friendly deal that could be easy to move in the future if the two parties can’t make things work out.