Welcome to the third installment of Basketball Insiders’ “Odd Men Out” series. For those of you who haven’t been following this week, Basketball Insiders is looking at players from each division that don’t appear to be part of their team’s future plans.
Here are the previous installments for reference:
Spencer Davies: Central Division
Matt John: Southwest Division
Today we will be focusing on the Southeast Division.
Just a few years ago, the Southeast Division was considered one of the most competitive in the league, boasting four playoff teams. Entering the 2018-19 campaign, it’s clear to see most of the teams in the division are in the midst of rebuilding their respective programs. Rebuilding and retooling are all about frequent changes while front office executives develop their next core centerpieces. As a result, there are multiple guys around the division that could potentially be the odd men out – long term.
The following players meet that criteria.
Kent Bazemore – Atlanta Hawks
Bazemore is one of the last roster holdovers from the Mike Budenholzer era in Atlanta. During his four seasons in Atlanta the forward has averaged 10.1 points, 3.8 rebounds and 2.3 assists on 37 percent shooting from three-point range. Bazemore has been mostly durable during his tenure with the team, doesn’t cause any off the court drama and is well regarded as a teammate. However, there are a couple of things working against him as the Hawks focus on rebuilding.
The first is the contract. Back in 2016, Bazemore signed a four-year, $70 million deal which at the time was the largest ever for an undrafted player. Bazemore is owed over $37 million through 2020 and plays a position where general manager Travis Schlenk has acquired more guys to compete for minutes (Kevin Huerter, Justin Anderson).
Bazemore is what the NBA dream is about: a guy at one point known for his sideline celebrations than on court acumen, developing into a solid starter that could eventually earn over $100 million in the league. But as Atlanta restructures he could potentially be one of the odd men out.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist – Charlotte Hornets
While the Charlotte Hornets have a big decision to make regarding the long term future of dynamic point guard Kemba Walker with the organization, the odd man out is likely former high lottery pick Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.
Kidd-Gilchrist has started 353 out of 357 career games as a member of the Hornets since joining the team in 2012, but new Charlotte general manager Mitch Kupchak and new head coach James Borrego have a bevy of options on the wing, which could ultimately have Kidd-Gilchrist spending a lot more quality time on the pine.
Lottery pick Miles Bridges could be in store for more minutes and second year player Dwayne Bacon ended last season with extended playing time. But what could potentially derail Kidd-Gilchrist’s minutes the most is the rumored move of Nic Batum to the position full-time under Borrego. Kidd-Gilchrist is owed $13 million this season and has a player option for the 2020 campaign worth $13 million.
Dion Waiters – Miami HEAT
Waiters is owed $36 million over the next three years and has missed a total of 88 regular season games the past two campaigns. Last season, Waiters was limited to only 30 games before undergoing ankle surgery. Putting Waiters in this place isn’t about talent. Miami just has so many bloated contracts on the books to navigate as they attempt to become free agency players in 2020. In the backcourt, the HEAT are a bit crowded with Goran Dragic, Josh Richardson, Waiters, Tyler Johnson, Wayne Ellington and potentially Dwyane Wade (if he doesn’t retire).
Johnson’s contract is extremely back loaded, with $38 million owed over the next two seasons, Ellington provided long range marksmanship and Richardson proved more than serviceable last season in 81 starts.
Nikola Vucevic – Orlando Magic
In six seasons with the Orlando Magic, Nikola Vucevic has averaged 16 points and 10.4 rebounds per game over the course of 405 contests. While this production hasn’t led to a slew of winning, Vucevic should be respected for his consistent performance in Orlando.
However, Vucevic’s contract expires after this season and the Magic drafted promising rookie center Mohamed Bamba in the lottery back in June. Bamba showed flashes of explosiveness during summer league play and it’s the team’s desire for him to establish himself as the anchor in the paint eventually – which would leave Vucevic on the outside looking in.
Jodie Meeks – Washington Wizards
The Wizards were active this summer by acquiring former All-Star Dwight Howard and veteran combo guard Austin Rivers. The acquisition of Rivers will likely impact the role of Jodie Meeks, who averaged 14.5 minutes in 77 appearances last summer. Factor in that Meeks was suspended for 25 games back in April for a failed drug test and it all but guarantees Meeks’ role in the rotation will be tough to keep moving forward.
Stay tuned for Basketball Insiders’ later installments of “Odd Men Out” coming out this week!
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