The NBA trade deadline is in the rearview window, but many players who remained with their current teams despite being linked to trades still have to deal with the mental aftermath of what could’ve happened, and Los Angeles Lakers shooting guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is no exception.
Caldwell-Pope is averaging solid numbers this season but has been mired in inconsistency — some games he can’t miss from 3-point range, other games he’s completely invisible. Without LeBron James and Anthony Davis, Caldwell-Pope’s skillset has exacerbated.
Despite being a reliable defender and a solid catch-and-shoot guard, the Lakers have needed more of their prominent role players to add a little more to their game to replace the production left behind by the All-Star duo, but Caldwell-Pope has oftentimes been unable to do so.
Amidst a rough stretch, his name also circulated in trade rumors, particularly for Kyle Lowry, and he explained how he kept a positive mindset during that time.
“I’ve been through it,” Caldwell-Pope said. “I know how it goes. But I have one job and that’s to go out there and try to win games, play defense, make shots. That’s my job and that’s the one thing I have to worry about.
“All the trade talk, that’s outside noise. I let my agent pretty much worry about that and I just try to go out there and play basketball with a clear mind and not try to let anything, whatever it is, bother me.”
Following a relatively quiet five-game stretch where he averaged just 5.0 points per game, Caldwell-Pope reignited against the Philadelphia 76ers on Thursday night with 19 points on 6-of-10 field goal shooting, including a 3-for-5 clip from deep. He followed it up with a quiet game against the Cleveland Cavaliers, although the Lakers were able to win convincingly to snap their four-game losing streak.
Caldwell-Pope’s defense isn’t usually a worry, but the ability to add more points to a team desperately needing them is what the Lakers need from players like him.
If Caldwell-Pope can maintain a similar level of production, it can help the Lakers stay afloat as they eagerly await the return of Davis and James.
Caldwell-Pope believes Lakers need to stay together without stars
The Lakers have played a tough schedule, which makes it even more arduous to win games without James and Davis.
The ride doesn’t slow down for Los Angeles anytime soon, so they have to start finding ways to win games as soon as possible, and Caldwell-Pope feels he knows the way to do that.
“We just got to be together. It’s all about together, Coach [Vogel] talks about it a lot and we got to play for each other regardless of what it is, how we’re gonna do it. We’ve got to do it with each other, we’ve got to pick each other up no matter what it is.”
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