In their biggest move during free agency this past summer, the Los Angeles Lakers doled out $18 million to sign Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who’d spent the previous four seasons with the Detroit Pistons after being selected by the team eighth overall in the 2013 NBA Draft.
While Caldwell-Pope received a lucrative salary, the salary-cap-minded Lakers took advantage of what had been a slow market for the shooting guard and inked him to a one-year contract. Caldwell-Pope was added with the notion of providing some experience to a roster laced with rookies.
In addition, he’s emerged as one of the team’s steady shooters, an area the Lakers have otherwise been deficient in. But as they concluded a four-game road trip on Thursday, Caldwell-Pope was absent.
The Lakers announced he wouldn’t play and was not with the team because of personal reasons. According to ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne , that was a result of a change in his sentencing from a previous legal matter:
Los Angeles Lakers guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope missed the team’s game in Cleveland on Thursday in order to comply with a modified sentence stemming from a misdemeanor offense of allowing someone to operate his vehicle under the influence while a member of the Detroit Pistons in March, his attorney told ESPN.
Caldwell-Pope was required to return to California to begin a 25-day program that will result in travel restrictions and could cause him to miss additional games.
Rookie Josh Hart was pressed into the lineup as a result of Caldwell-Pope being unavailable. Hart set career highs with 11 points and 10 rebounds in what was also his first double-double.
Speaking after the loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers, Lakers head coach Luke Walton said he anticipated Caldwell-Pope would rejoin and practice with the team over the weekend in the Los Angeles. That remains the expectation.
The league previously suspended Caldwell-Pope for the first two games of the season under the personal conduct policy. While the 24-year-old may miss additional time, that would only be in the short term — or within the next 25 days as Caldwell-Pope completes the program.
He’s averaging 14.2 points, 4.9 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game, while shooting a career-best 36.1 percent from behind the 3-point line.
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