NBA Free Agency Rumors: Lakers, Knicks Interested In Caldwell-Pope

The Los Angeles Lakers have already retooled their roster in free agency in a way many did not think they could given their salary cap situation.

They’ve added Dennis Schroder — albeit via trade — and reportedly reached agreements with Wesley Matthews and Montrezl Harrell to replace Danny Green, Dwight Howard and most likely Rajon Rondo. Now, their final major move is figuring out a contract for Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.

Caldwell-Pope was one of the Lakers most important contributors during their 2020 championship run, and he would fit in perfectly in the starting lineup. His role would essentially go unchanged in L.A. from last year, but money appears to be the final hurdle in the contract negotiation.

The 3-and-D wing could have made $8.4 million with the Lakers this year, but is looking for more after opting out, according to Brad Turner of The L.A. Times:

With the Lakers using the entirety of their midlevel exception on Harrell and the bi-annual exception on Matthews, their bird rights on Caldwell-Pope would allow them to pay him somewhere between $10 and $12 million before being hard-capped.

The question remains whether or not he can get more than that on the open market. The only two teams with the salary cap space to offer Caldwell-Pope more than $12 million are the Atlanta Hawks and New York Knicks, both of whom have reported interest in him.

If Caldwell-Pope does not want to go to either of these locations but wants to make more money, he could work out a sign and trade deal with L.A. and another team.

At this point, it’s more likely than not that Caldwell-Pope suits up for the Lakers next season, but it might not be a quick resolution, even with training camp beginning Dec. 1.

Caldwell-Pope could be a part of sign and trade for DeMar DeRozan

While it’s highly unlikely and not necessarily a great move for L.A., Caldwell-Pope could still technically be packaged with Kyle Kuzma in a sign-and-trade deal that nets the Lakers DeMar DeRozan.

DeRozan was a rumored target for the Lakers, but that speculation has mostly dissipated since the acquisition of Schroder. However, there is belief such a scenario could entail the Lakers acquiring Bogdan Bogdanovic from the Sacramento Kings.

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