The Los Angeles Lakers finally got their man in free agency, landing shooting guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope on a one-year, $18 million deal. Since they are trying to preserve cap space for the summer of 2018 by only offering deals that expire after this season, it wasn’t clear if the Lakers were going to be able to land an impact player, but Caldwell-Pope is just that.
He has the ability to hit from behind the arc, hitting a good-but-not-great 35 percent from three last season. Playing next to Lonzo Ball in the new Lakers offense, though, Caldwell-Pope should get plenty of open looks that will hopefully increase his efficiency. Head coach Luke Walton was thrilled to add his new shooting guard to the lineup, according to Lakers Reporter Mike Trudell:
Luke Walton told us on @SpectrumSN he’s excited about the KCP signing. Really loves what he can do on the defensive end especially.
— Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) July 14, 2017
Caldwell-Pope would probably not be considered a true veteran by NBA standards at just 24 years old and with four years of experience, but on an extremely young Lakers squad, he is close to being an elder statesman, but also still has plenty of room to develop. Caldwell-Pope will be tasked with spacing the floor for Ball, who has the ability to zip passes to open shooters.
Additionally, Caldwell-Pope is a terrific defender who is capable of taking the opposing team’s best perimeter player on a nightly basis. This should help Ball save some energy by not having to chase around some of the dynamic guards that populate the loaded Western Conference, and should help the Lakers improve on their porous defense by giving them at least one perimeter player who can lock down.
Walton has every right to be excited about this addition to the roster as the Lakers look much improved from a season ago.