While a number of other Los Angeles Lakers free agent additions and re-signings made bigger headlines, bringing back Kentavious Caldwell-Pope on a three-year, $40 million contract was perhaps one of the smartest moves made by vice president of basketball operations Rob Pelinka.
Caldwell-Pope proved himself to be a bonafide starter during the team’s championship run. Entering his fourth year with the Lakers and his eighth in the league, Caldwell-Pope had spent the past few years signing inflated one year contracts in order to prove himself worthy of a longer deal.
He was finally rewarded after stepping in for Avery Bradley in the starting lineup during the NBA restart and playoffs. “It means a lot. I’m truly blessed and grateful that the Lakers organization believed in me,” Caldwell-Pope said of achieving more security.
“Also I believed in myself. Taking the one-year deals, it was something me and my agent discussed over and over. Just betting on myself with the one-year deals. This year, to come out and perform how I performed, I’m truly blessed and humbled they believed in me enough to give me a comfortable deal that I haven’t had in so long.”
Beyond just the long-term security, he felt he belonged on the Lakers. “It was off the court and on the court. L.A. is a big market. With the Lakers having my back means a lot,” Caldwell-Pope explained.
“I can do a lot here as far as my career. There’s a lot of opportunities. I’m looking forward to capitalizing on them.”
While no details have been revealed about the starting lineup for the 2020-21 season, it may be likely that Caldwell-Pope returns to a bench role. This became a possibility when Dennis Schroder revealed he was traded to the Lakers with the expectation that he would move to the starting lineup.
Still, there’s no doubt that Caldwell-Pope will be playing big minutes, as he’s earned that through his importance to the team last season.
Caldwell-Pope has faith in himself and journey
Caldwell-Pope has come a long way to being a valuable role player on a championship team, and he discussed what that journey was and what it taught him. “That’s why I have my brand as far as never give up. I really truly believe that. I have a lot of faith in myself and God,” he said.
“If I put in the work it’s going to pay off. I’ve always lived that way as far as playing basketball and sports. If I put in the work, it’s going to get done. It was all about me having that self-motivation, that work ethic, getting after it when nobody was in the gym with me or around. The mentality is I’m going to make it.
“Regardless of what I’ve got to do to go through it, I’m going to make it. I’ve lived that my whole life. From high school, I had to buckle down with my school work to even get into college. Then going to college, winning SEC Player of the Year, getting drafted and now winning an NBA championship, it’s all been a truly amazing journey for me. I’ve enjoyed the journey.”
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