The Los Angeles Lakers are headed into a crucial summer of free agency as they go after their desired big-name targets while also figuring out what to do with their own upcoming free agents. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope’s name has emerged in recent rumors, and LA Sports Hub‘s Jason Reed suggested that the team should re-sign the shooting guard to another one-year deal if they fail to land five-time NBA All-Star Paul George.
George is rumored to be one of the Lakers’ primary free agent targets this offseason. It has been an open secret that the Oklahoma City Thunder wingman dreams about playing for his hometown squad, where he could get the opportunity to perform in front of his family and friends on a more regular basis.
The Palmdale, California, native disclosed last season that he plans to sign with the Lakers as soon as he enters unrestricted free agency. However, his intention may have changed after one year of playing with Russell Westbrook in Oklahoma City. The Thunder are currently fourth in the West standings with only seven games left in their regular season campaign, giving him a sure path to participate in the playoffs.
According to Steven Kyler of Basketball Insiders, the former NBA Most Improved Player “wants to win first and foremost” than to be in a team where he is the main man.
With Westbrook and another All-Star in Carmelo Anthony, the Thunder evidently provides George a better avenue for winning. He would clearly be the go-to guy for L.A. should he decide to jump ship, but most analysts believe that the young and talented Lakers are not yet ready to slug it out with the NBA’s better teams even after adding George.
Thus, Reed suggested that the Lakers should retain Caldwell-Pope to “another massive one-year deal” if they fail to sign George.
In his article, Reed said that “there is a very real chance” that George would decide to stay with the Thunder next season, especially if the team could advance deeper in the postseason. Should that happen, the Lakers are left with a massive amount of salary cap space that would go to waste.
Signing Caldwell-Pope to a one-year contract maximizes that cap space and at the same time would keep the Lakers financially flexible enough to pursue other superstar free agents in the summer of 2019. The team could also then offer upcoming restricted free agent Julius Randle a much better contract moving forward.
Moreover, Reed said that the Lakers should still try to keep Caldwell-Pope even if they successfully get George, albeit to a much lower three-year, $18 million deal. The report noted that Caldwell-Pope could be a strong backup behind George and a reliable defensive presence playing in the second unit.