After a loss to the New York Knicks on the third stop of their four-game road trip, the Los Angeles Lakers traveled to Cleveland without Kentavious-Caldwell Pope. He was due to meet with a judge in Michigan, then reunite with his teammates in time for the game against the Cavaliers.
But Caldwell-Pope instead flew from Detroit to Los Angeles, where he awaited the team for this weekend’s practices. The change in itinerary was a result of Caldwell-Pope agreeing to a modified 25-day restriction stemming from a previous plea agreement.
Under the new arrangement, Caldwell-Pope is not permitted to travel outside of the state of California for the next three-plus weeks. That figures to affect his status for road games against the Houston Rockets on Dec. 20 and Dec. 31, and a matchup with the Minnesota Timberwolves on Jan. 1.
“There’s things from both ends of the floor that we will miss from him. But it was nice having him back with us [Saturday] in practice,” Lakers head coach Luke Walton said.
“He’s one of those guys that hits big shots for us. When you’re on the road, you can stall out a little bit like we have a tendency to do from time to time. He is somebody that can get it going and hit two or three straight jumpers or make a big play on defense or get a steal for us.”
Caldwell-Pope is averaging 14.2 points, 4.9 rebounds and 1.8 steals per game. In addition, he’s shooting a career-best 36.1 percent from behind the 3-point line. The Lakers signed Caldwell-Pope to a one-year, $18 million contract in July, or nearly two months after the legal incident.
He was originally cited for operating a vehicle while intoxicated but pleaded guilty last May to the lesser charge of allowing someone to operate his vehicle while under the influence. That came with a 12-month probation, and Caldwell-Pope was suspended for the first two games of the season under the NBA personal conduct policy.
He expressed a sense of relief of coming to an agreement that allows him to continue playing, but was also remorseful over the incident. “It has been very disappointing to me as well, as far as my teammates,” Caldwell-Pope said.
“I feel like I let them down, as well, my coaches, the organization. I just have to deal with this legal situation that came with it.”
WANT TO PARTICIPATE IN THE DISCUSSION? CHECK OUT THE NEW LAKERS NATION FORUM CLUB