We knew it was coming. It was just a matter of time. Darius Bazley, who the Phoenix Suns acquired in a midseason deal for Dario Saric, did not receive a qualifying offer from the team during free agency. That offer would have to be for $6.2 million, money the organization was not willing to invest into the 23-year old wing.
Therefore, he became a free agent.
It was a short partnership between Bazley and the Suns. Young and athletic, capable of highlight dunks and defensive stops, Baze simply didn’t meet the needs of the organization. His acquisition was more of a Dario Saric salary dump than it was an attempt to bring in someone who could contribute to a team with championship aspirations.
Despite his role not fitting with that of the team, there were still fans that believed that his athletic abilities alone would propel him into more playing time.
Monty should’ve at least seen what he had in Darius Bazley during the regular season. Really didn’t play him until the final game (highlights below). They could use his defense (87th pctl DEPM, 93rd pctl BLK%), length, and athleticism. pic.twitter.com/sREjXtiYE8— Brett Usher (@UsherNBA) April 30, 2023
Does he have promise? Sure. But c’mon. Why do people always demand that the 14th guy on the bench get playing time? There are only so many minutes in a game and you can not tell me that playing Darius more would’ve swung any playoff series. Or you can. And I’ll smile, nod, and walk away believing in my heart that your brain resembles those fried eggs on those Partnership for a Drug Free America commercials.
His final stat line with Phoenix: 7 games played, 4 points per game, 2.3 rebounds, 0.9 assists, 0.4 steals, 0.7 blocks, and shooting percentages of 48 FG%, 25 3PT%, and 40 FT%. I rest my case.
15 days after free agency opened, Darius Bazley chose to sign with the Brooklyn Nets, where he once again has an opportunity to battle for starting minutes.
Free agent F Darius Bazley has agreed to a one-year deal with the Brooklyn Nets, Klutch Sports CEO Rich Paul and agent Brandon Cavanaugh tell ESPN.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) July 15, 2023
There is no denying that Bazley is a talented player. He was drafted 23rd overall in the 2019 NBA Draft and, in his time with the Oklahoma City Thunder, started 118 of his 228 appearances. The 6’8” wing can absolutely fly, and around the basket is where he does his most damage. His career splits as a starter, however, are 40.3/29.5/69.7.
Bazley needed to go somewhere in which he could continue his development. Brooklyn is that somewhere.
His fit in Phoenix didn’t make sense, and given the size of his qualifying offer — which equates to three veteran minimum contracts — the Suns opted to let him walk. He joins former Suns Mikal Bridges and Cameron Johnson on a team that the Phoenix fanbase continues to route for.
Best of luck to Darius as his career continues. We’re looking forward to some putback jams and alley oop dunks on Mikal Bridges’ assists.