While Lakers’ fans bask in the afterglow of Kobe’s final game and wait on front office decisions on the head coach, the draft, and free agency it looks as if some decisions are being made for them already. Or at least one of them is as Brandon Bass has decided how he will handle his player option for the 2016-17 season.
Lakers F Brandon Bass to decline 2016-17 player option, become unrestricted free agent this summer, league source informs @clevelanddotcom.
— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) April 20, 2016
From the moment Bass signed a two-year deal with a player option for the second season, this decision was pretty much a foregone conclusion.
It is hard to know what the market was for Bass last summer, but he certainly signed a team friendly contract in terms of annual salary. In exchange for signing on the cheap, he got the right to jump back into the free agent pool this summer when the salary cap explodes this summer. If he played well in a firm role in a big market with good exposure, his one year deal would pay off. He is banking on that being exactly the case.
After a slow start to the season, Bass became one of the steadiest and most consistent performers on the team this past season. Eventually finding his stride as the team’s backup Center, he was 2nd on the team in PER, the team’s best defensive player, a solid rebounder, and a good finisher inside –leading the team in dunks.
So, even if it wasn’t a done deal that he would opt out simply because of the cap explosion and having the business sense to try and get a taste of the piles of money teams will hand out this summer, his play outpaced his pay and he’d be wise to try and rectify that.
Whether the Lakers and Bass work out another agreement remains to be seen. As a back up C, Bass has value to this team. Add in his veteran smarts and locker room steadiness and it would be nice to have him back. The question, of course, will be at what price and for how long. These details matter, especially since the Lakers will be looking to maximize their cap space in the chase for impact players who can reverse the course of a franchise with its worst seasons the past two years. Veterans like Bass can aid in that reversal, but are not the principals behind it.
Make no mistake, though, I wouldn’t mind having Bass return should a reasonable deal be reached. We’ll see what happens in July.