The Los Angeles Lakers return home on Friday night looking to begin to change the momentum of the season when they host the Washington Wizards. This game, in particular, will be an emotional one as it marks the return of two players on the Lakers’ 2020 championship team in Kyle Kuzma and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.
Both players played a massive role on the team’s 17th NBA Championship with Caldwell-Pope serving as one of the team’s best defenders and 3-point shooters while Kuzma was an important utility player off the bench filling many roles. Both were dealt away to Washington this season along with Montrezl Harrell in exchange for Russell Westbrook, and this will be both’s first game back at the now-Crypto.com Arena against the Lakers.
Caldwell-Pope didn’t shy away from the importance of the game either as he told Mark Medina of NBA.com there will be a lot of emotions during this return to the franchise that got him his first NBA Championship, and he has no hard feelings towards the Lakers:
“It’s going to mean a lot. Me and Kuz are already trying to picture what it’s going to be like,” Caldwell-Pope told NBA.com “We know it’s going to be a lot of emotions because of the championship run we had with the team and our friends that are still there. There’s going to be a lot of emotion and a lot of fun.”
“No hard feelings. I’m at peace,” Caldwell-Pope said. “I’m happy where I’m at.”
This was the first time being traded for Caldwell-Pope and Kuzma and oftentimes players can harbor some resentment towards the franchise as they aren’t used to it. There had been some rumors floating around that both could be dealt last summer, but that doesn’t make it any less difficult when it occurs.
Caldwell-Pope spent four seasons with the Lakers, being a reliable starter and one of the team’s best 3-point shooters. He averaged 11.1 points and shot 37.8% from 3-point range during his time in L.A. and any time you win a championship, there will always be an emotional connection forever.
Being back in L.A. in a road capacity will definitely be a different feeling and both former Lakers are prepared to deal with the emotions. And even though there are no hard feelings from Caldwell-Pope, there will almost definitely be some motivation to put on an excellent performance and remind the Lakers of what they used to have.
In his first season in Washington, Caldwell-Pope is averaging 12.3 points and 3.4 rebounds while hitting 39.1% from 3-point range.
Former Lakers star Kyle Kuzma enjoying his role with Wizards
Kuzma was the other member of the Lakers’ 2020 championship team dealt away to Washington and he is enjoying his time with his new team so far.
Kuzma opened up about being with the Wizards noting that he enjoys the fact that he has an established role that doesn’t differ and that he doesn’t have to look over his shoulder any time he makes a mistake.
Have you subscribed to our YouTube channel? It’s the best way to watch player interviews, exclusive coverage from events, participate in live shows, and more!