Los Angeles Lakers shooting guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope has struggled earlier in the 2018-19 NBA season which made Coach Luke Walton decide to demote him to the second unit. However, coming off the bench turned out to be a blessing in disguise for Caldwell-Pope as he somewhat managed to find his rhythm and become a more reliable contributor for the Lakers.
The Lakers may already be out of the playoff race, but Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is still finding ways to establish an impressive performance in the remaining games in the 2018-19 NBA season. In a recent interview with reporters (transcribed by Lakers Nation), the 26-year-old shooting guard said that the Lakers’ final 11 games will give him and his fellow teammates who will also become unrestricted free agents the “opportunity” to increase their value in the 2019 NBA free agency.
“I mean, it’s great. It’s an opportunity for everybody. Unfortunately, we’re not in the playoffs. I wish we were, but I mean these minutes and the games that we have left is a real opportunity for everybody to go out there and just show what you got and just continue to be consistent and get better.”
In the Lakers’ 115-101 loss over the Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday night, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope posted a career-high 35 points on 60.0 percent shooting from the field and 75.0 percent shooting from beyond the arc. Those type of games will undeniably help Caldwell-Pope land a decent contract when he hits the open market again next July. With the Lakers’ goal to find a second superstar to pair with LeBron James, it is highly unlikely that they will spend a huge chunk of their salary cap space to bring Caldwell-Pope back.
A meet-up with @LethalShooter__, pre-game shooting with Reggie Bullock and the perfect nap all helped Kentavious Caldwell-Pope erupt for 35 points against the Bucks. https://t.co/nle25Ecax8 pic.twitter.com/HKrMAB6yWD— Silver Screen & Roll (@LakersSBN) March 20, 2019
Lakers President of Basketball Operations Magic Johnson and General Manager Rob Pelinka purposely gave Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, JaVale McGee, Rajon Rondo, Michael Beasley, and Lance Stephenson one-year contracts last offseason to maintain their salary cap flexibility for the summer of 2019. As everyone knows, the Lakers are preserving their salary cap space to offer a max contract to incoming free agent superstars like Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, Kawhi Leonard, Kemba Walker, Jimmy Butler, and DeMarcus Cousins.
The Lakers could try to offer Kentavious Caldwell-Pope a one-year, veteran minimum deal next summer, but the veteran shooting guard is unlikely to accept it unless the Purple and Gold turned into a legitimate title contender. When the 2019 NBA free agency starts, Caldwell-Pope is expected to sign with a team that will give him a long-term contract and a significant playing time.