In a January 9 article called “Lakers: Three LA Trade Candidates From A Stacked Nuggets Team,” Alex Kirschenbaum of Sports Illustrated proposed that the Los Angeles Lakers make a trade with the Denver Nuggets.
Kirschenbaum’s hypothetical trade had the Lakers sending Patrick Beverley and Austin Reaves to the Nuggets for Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and a first-round pick.
“This is the big deal that I’m not sure either side would feel amazing about,” Kirschenbaum wrote. “Beverley has been such a minus on offense for most of the year that he probably shouldn’t play major minutes anymore (not that that’s stopped Darvin Ham), but he remains a good perimeter defender and rebounder. Reaves has been an absolute steal in LA and a very popular player among fans, but KCP is just an elite 3-and-D catch-and-shoot option at this point in his career. Because Reaves is an intriguing young asset, you’d imagine the Lakers could actually extract some level of draft capital from Denver in this deal. I doubt that the Nuggets would be willing to ditch a starter like this per se, unless it views Reaves as an eventual starter himself. Reaves is in line for a pay raise this summer, but given that he’s a restricted free agent, his incumbent team could match any rival offer. Beverley is an expiring contract that the team could try to repackage later, if it makes this move pre-deadline?”
Caldwell-Pope signed a two-year, $30.2 million extension with the Nuggets in July after being traded from the Washington Wizards. The former Lakers forward is making $14 million this season.
Beverley is on an expiring $13 million contract, while Reaves will become a restricted free agent this summer if the team he’s on offers him a qualifying offer.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope Is Having a Great Season
Caldwell-Pope is having a terrific season for the Nuggets. The 29-year-old is averaging 11.5 points, 3.1 rebounds and 2.3 assists while shooting 47.0% from the field, 47.1% from beyond the arc and 84.7% from the free-throw line. Caldwell-Pope is second in the NBA in 3-point field goal percentage. He has hit 81 3s in 39 games. No one on the Lakers has made more than 66.
Caldwell-Pope averaged 11.1 points, 3.2 rebounds and 1.7 assists in 292 games with the Lakers from 2017-18 to 2020-21. He helped the franchise win the 2020 championship over the Miami Heat at the Walt Disney World bubble. KCP put up 12.8 points per game in the Finals and played excellent perimeter defense.
The Lakers traded Caldwell-Pope to the Wizards in the summer of 2021 in the blockbuster Russell Westbrook trade. That wound up being a lousy move by LA. The team has missed Caldwell-Pope’s shooting and defensive skills.
Caldwell-Pope has the same agent (Rich Paul of Klutch Sports Group) as Lakers superstars LeBron James and Anthony Davis, so he will always be linked to the purple and gold.
Patrick Beverley Has Struggled This Season; Austin Reaves Has Been Solid
Beverley has really struggled for the Lakers, who are 19-22. The Chicago native is averaging just 5.8 points while shooting 39.1% from the floor and 33.3% on 3-pointers. Since the Lakers need more shooters around James and Davis, moving on from Beverley seems like a smart move.
Reaves, who has become a fan favorite in LA, is seventh on the Lakers in points per game and third in 3-point field goals. The Arkansas native is averaging 10.8 points, 3.1 rebounds and 2.2 assists while shooting 36.0% from deep and 89.6% from the charity stripe. On the December 23 episode of the “Late Night Lake Show podcast,” The Athletic’s Jovan Buha said the Lakers will likely have to open up their pockets to keep Reaves in restricted free agency.
“From what I’ve heard on that, it’s going to be more than (Alex) Caruso money,” Buha said. “That’s for sure. It’s going to be double digits.”
The NBA trade deadline is February 9. Trading Beverley and Reaves for Caldwell-Pope could be a sneaky and clever trade for the Lakers to pull off.