Last year’s trade for Russell Westbrook wasn’t just bad for the Los Angeles Lakers because they added a player who was a bad fit. It’s made so much worse by the fact that they gave up some key role players. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Kyle Kuzma weren’t stars but they were good defenders who could put up the occasional high-scoring game.
Kuzma will likely stay in Washington for another season but Caldwell-Pope could potentially be available. He’s due $14 million next season but only $4.9 million of it is guaranteed. If the Wizards want to open up about $9 million in salary-cap space, they could cut Caldwell-Pope. If that happens former Memphis Grizzlies executive turned writer for The Athletic John Hollinger believes the Lakers would be all over him:
To some extent, they have to hope the lure of a big role on a prominent team will offset the lack of cash, and/or that there might be some free agent(s) who face an unexpectedly chilly market and turn to L.A. on a one-year deal with a player option. One potential answer I could think of is Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who might not have his partially guaranteed deal picked up by Washington and could benefit from a reunion with his 2020 championship teammates. Of course, he might not ever become a free agent.
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Lakers Insider Believes Team Would Welcome KCP Back
The Lakers clearly needed a player like Caldwell-Pope last season. He’s a guy who can play really good perimeter defense and can score when he’s called upon. He also hit 41% of his 3-point shots last season in Los Angeles. The Athletic’s Jovan Buha believes the Lakers would love to bring back Caldwell-Pope.
“I think the Lakers and Lakers fans would welcome a Caldwell-Pope reunion,” Buha wrote. “He was an ideal complement to James and Davis with his near-elite role-player combination of spot-up shooting, transition finishing and one-on-one defense on either backcourt position.”
The veteran guard is a Klutch Sports client, which is the same agency that represents LeBron James and Anthony Davis. There’s no doubt that everybody involved would want to make this happen.
Why Would Wizards Cut KCP?
From the Lakers’ perspective, a Caldwell-Pope reunion makes too much sense. From the Wizards’ perspective, it’s difficult to see why they would want to let him go. He’s close friends with superstar guard Bradley Beal. If Washington hopes to keep Beal, they’re going to want him happy. A way to keep him happy is to keep his friend on the team.
Caldwell-Pope was also solid for the Wizards this season. He averaged 13.2 points a game, made 39% of his threes and continued to play good defense. One way to let him go without alienating Beal would be cutting him to open up money to add a superstar. Washington could also be ready to finally trade the guard. The team isn’t going to be a contender anytime soon and might be better off starting over for a rebuild. That would open up the door for them to cut Caldwell-Pope.