Grading Every Los Angeles Lakers Offseason Move so Far – Bleacher Report
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Free agency probably didn’t play out how Kentavious Caldwell-Pope had planned, but this was exactly what the Lakers had in mind. In a single signing, they bulked up their backcourt defense, furthered their youth movement and retained the cap space needed to go superstar-searching next summer.
Caldwell-Pope’s late entry to the unrestricted market—his rights were renounced a week into the bidding process—left him with few options. L.A. seized the opportunity and secured the two-way wing on a one-year, $18 million deal, as ESPN’s Brian Windhorst reported.
This is an on-court heist. The Lakers fielded the Association’s worst defense last season, and drafting Ball wasn’t going to help. But with Caldwell-Pope’s ability to defend both backcourt positions, L.A. now has a guard stopper who can let Ball take the easier assignment. Caldwell-Pope is also an easy add on offense, since he doesn’t need many touches and thrives off the ball (37.4 catch-and-shoot three-point percentage).
But this goes well beyond the immediate impact. Not only did the Lakers preserve their cap room, but as ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski explained when this first became a possibility, Caldwell-Pope could be an asset in the recruitment of LeBron James:
“[He’s] obviously a good, young two-way player, shares the same agent as LeBron James—Rich Paul. As the Lakers’ pursuit of LeBron James heats up, they bring in someone who’s part of Klutch Sports, and the one thing that I think anybody knows if you’re going to get at LeBron James, you need a roster of two-way players.
“They could potentially sign him at a high number for one year, create more cap space next year, re-sign him to an extension as the Lakers try to pursue Paul George [and] LeBron James.”
Caldwell-Pope’s career shooting marks aren’t great (40.5 from the field, 33.4 outside), and he’ll crowd the backcourt a bit, but it’s tough to find negatives from L.A.’s perspective.