The Los Angeles Lakers hold the cap space to potentially sign two max caliber free agents in the summer of 2018 when All-Stars like LeBron James, Paul George, DeMarcus Cousins and possibly Russell Westbrook are all set to hit free agency.
Because of this, the Lakers front office made it very clear at the beginning of this offseason that they were not going to be major players in free agency this summer, only giving out one-year contracts to preserve that cap space for next year.
While it wasn’t believed that any big name free agents would accept a one-year deal with the Lakers, a team that most likely will not be competing for a championship this season, they were able to convince former Detroit Pistons guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope to sign a one-year, $18 million deal to come to L.A.
Caldwell-Pope is represented by Rich Paul of Klutch Sports Group, who is a childhood friend and current agent of James. According to Dave McMenamin of ESPN, Paul’s relationship with James is believed to be a reason why the Lakers signed Caldwell-Pope this offseason:
Multiple league sources suggested to ESPN that a major motivating factor in the Lakers’ signing Kentavious Caldwell-Pope to a one-year, $18 million deal this offseason was because Caldwell-Pope is repped by Rich Paul, the same agent as James.
Now the Lakers can spend a year communicating with Paul, showing him how they run their organization, sharing meals, etc., and it will all be protected under the Caldwell-Pope prism, even if it could prove influential as to what James ultimately decides to do.
While that might have played a factor in the signing, it goes much beyond that as Caldwell-Pope is a defense-first guard that can also shoot from the perimeter, which is exactly what the Lakers needed this summer to put next to rookie point guard Lonzo Ball in the backcourt.
Caldwell-Pope will have an opportunity to have a career-year in Los Angeles and then will hit free agency again next summer to get a long term deal with either the Lakers or elsewhere.
So it seemed to be a match made in heaven for both sides, and the fact that Paul also represents James and they can begin building a relationship with him now is just an added bonus that could benefit the Lakers next summer in their pursuit of James. Of course, considering the Lakers were just fined for a tampering violation, they will need to be very careful in how they handle this.