The Los Angeles Lakers brought Kentavious Caldwell-Pope back last summer on a one-year, $12 million deal.
They hoped that his excellent shooting from the second half of the 2017-2018 NBA season would continue with LeBron James generating open looks.
However, Caldwell-Pope’s three-point accuracy actually decreased from 38% to 35%, including four months where he hit 32% or worse. On the season overall, Caldwell-Pope wasn’t terrible as a shooter, but on a team starving for floor spacers, they needed him to be better.
After starting every game he played in his first season with the Lakers, Caldwell-Pope was primarily used as a reserve, but rampant injuries pushed him into the starting lineup 23 times. With a diminished role, rumors surfaced that Caldwell-Pope was hoping to be traded and his name was included in the discussions between the Lakers and Phoenix Suns for Trevor Ariza.
More recently, it was revealed the Lakers may have had a deal with the Chicago Bulls just before the 2018-19 NBA trade deadline that would have brought Jabari Parker to Los Angeles, but that got disrupted when Anthony Davis requested a trade.
Caldwell-Pope had a few monster games late in the season as injuries increased his role, including a 35-point explosion against the Milwaukee Bucks, but by that point, the 2019 NBA playoffs were out of reach.
Highlight Of The 2018-19 Lakers Season
It’s a simple play, but this is what the Lakers needed from Caldwell-Pope as he comes off a double screen and knocks down a three off a pinpoint-accurate pass from James.
As a free agent, Caldwell-Pope will likely have interest from teams looking for a shooter off the bench, but it’s difficult to imagine him finding a deal that matches the $12 million the Lakers gave him. He has a built-in relationship with the Lakers because of Klutch Sports agent Rich Paul, who also represents James.
Given the Lakers need for shooting, it wouldn’t be out of the question for him to return, but they will have their cap space tied up early in free agency with their pursuit of All-Star players. Assuming the Lakers land a top-flight free agent, they likely won’t have enough money left over to keep Caldwell-Pope.