The Los Angeles Lakers — as a part of their offseason plans — may choose to simply run it back with as many players as possible from the 2019-20 roster.
If this is what they want to do, they’ll need Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who was a critical factor in their championship run. Caldwell-Pope is not only one of the team’s most important players, he’s also tied with Kyle Kuzma for the longest tenured.
Over the past three years, fans have witnessed him go from a volume scorer to an all-around three-and-D wing, with his points and field goal attempts decreasing in each year with L.A. but impact increasing.
However, what the future holds is unclear as Caldwell-Pope made the decision to decline his player option and enter unrestricted free agency, per Shams Charania of The Athletic:
Lakers starter Kentavious Caldwell-Pope will decline his 2020-21 player option and enter free agency, sources tell @TheAthleticNBA @Stadium. He’s expected to have several suitors at start of free agency — and teams are under impression he’s open to offers.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) November 16, 2020
While this does not mean that Caldwell-Pope’s time with the Lakers is over, it does suggest they will have to give him a pay raise.
Although he certainly has his cold streaks, Caldwell-Pope’s value to the Lakers is obvious. At times during the 2020 playoffs, he was the team’s third-best player, a title many assumed would belong to Kuzma.
Of all of the potential free agents from the Lakers this offseason — including Avery Bradley, Rajon Rondo, JaVale McGee, Dwight Howard and Markieff Morris — keeping Caldwell-Pope should be the top priority.
During the postseason as a full-time starter, Caldwell-Pope averaged 10.7 points per game on 41.8% from the field and 37.8% from three.
The Lakers reportedly got a jumpstart on the trade market by agreeing to acquire Dennis Schroder from the Oklahoma City Thunder in exchange for Danny Green and the No. 28 pick in the 2020 NBA Draft.
The trade can be finalized as soon as Monday morning at 9 a.m. PT, when the transactions window opens. Assuming the deal goes through, L.A. will be looking at needing to find wing players/defenders.
Caldwell-Pope fits that mold, and so too does Wesley Matthews, whom the Lakers are said to be interested in. Matthews is declining his player option for the 2020-21 season in order to become a free agent.
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