The Los Angeles Lakers are headed into this summer full of expectations on making the right free agency moves. Team president Magic Johnson has been clear about their goals: sign two max players to boost the squad’s young core and become postseason competitive all at once.
However, not all Lakers players are evidently part of the plan, and there are rumors that shooting guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope might be one of those who will be cut moving forward. The former Detroit Piston is set to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season after the Lakers signed him for a one-year rental of $17.7 million last summer.
Indeed, Caldwell-Pope being a one-year rental has been well-documented. LA Sports Hub said not too long after the Lakers acquired him in July 2017 that “bringing in Caldwell-Pope fits the narrative that L.A. is trying to paint perfectly.” The report also noted that “there is a very strong chance” that 2017-2018 would be his “lone season” with the Lakers, and there are no signs that it may change as of late.
The 25-year-old former Georgia Bulldogs star has been playing decently this season, averaging 13.0 points, 4.9 rebounds, 2.2 assists, and a career-high 1.6 steals in 32.7 minutes per game in 49 games so far, mostly as a starter for head coach Luke Walton. Caldwell-Pope’s current numbers are all within the range of his career stats, which indicates that he may have already reached his ceiling.
Meanwhile, Andrew Clark of FanSided‘s Valley of the Suns suggested that Phoenix should try to pursue a “defensive-oriented guard” like Caldwell-Pope this summer in order to have a winning offseason.
Clark said that getting Caldwell-Pope would allow Devin Booker to play at the point guard spot from time to time while also providing the Suns a reliable backup shooting guard that could “compensate for his (Booker’s) defensive weakness.” He then suggested that a $13 million to $14 million deal would be enough to land the eight overall pick of the 2013 draft.
Caldwell-Pope’s off-court issues may make Phoenix think twice, though. In December of last year, the player pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor offense he made while he was still with the Pistons the season before. He was prohibited to leave the state for 25 days, which disallowed him to play road games outside of California until it was served.