After getting involved in a number of rumors, the Los Angeles Lakers decided to not make a move at the trade deadline. One player the team was willing to move on from was Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. The veteran guard was a key part of last season’s title run but he’s struggled this year and his contract is much bigger than it once was.
This offseason, the Lakers are going to have a lot of key players hit the free-agent market. Alex Caruso, Talen Horton-Tucker, Dennis Schroder and now Andre Drummond don’t have contracts that go past this season. According to Bill Oram and Jovan Buha of The Athletic, Los Angeles was willing to move off of Caldwell-Pope’s contract so they can start making preparations for this upcoming offseason:
In addition to matching salary, trading Caldwell-Pope, who is owed $27 million over the next two years, would have given the Lakers some flexibility when it comes to re-signing both Horton-Tucker and Alex Caruso this offseason. Both players could garner the full mid-level exception on the open market, one source predicted.
The Lakers will be juggling the free agency of Schröder, Horton-Tucker and Caruso this offseason, with the intention to re-sign all three players, sources said.
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Should Lakers Move KCP in Offseason?
Despite the recent struggles, Caldwell-Pope is an important player for the Lakers. He’s started in 46 games this season and was a big reason the team won the championship last season. The problem is that he’s a very streaky player. When he’s hot, he’s unbelievable. There was a point where he was making over 50% of his threes earlier in the season.
However, when he’s cold, he’s freezing. He only hit 32.1% of his threes in February and 34.1% in March. Those are both below the team average of 35.1%, which is 24th in the NBA. Caldwell-Pope is supposed to be one of the team’s best shooters. If he can’t figure things out, they’ll be in trouble. His inconsistency is a big reason why the Lakers might need to consider trading him in the offseason. They have too many good pieces they could lose if they hold onto him.
Will Lakers Be Able to Keep Key Free Agents?
There’s no way the Lakers are going to be able to keep all of their top free agents this offseason. Dennis Schroder is going to get a big payday and Andre Drummond probably will, as well. Los Angeles will be able to keep one but not both. Unless Drummond blows the team away in the coming weeks, Schroder will more than likely be the one they try to keep.
It will also be difficult to keep both Alex Caruso and Talen Horton-Tucker. Caruso will be an unrestricted free agent so the Lakers don’t have any leverage with him. He’s not a starting-caliber player but he’s impressed many with his great defensive ability. There will be plenty of teams after him. Horton-Tucker will be the most interesting free agent. He will be a restricted free agent so that helps the Lakers. However, teams could see star potential in him and blow out any offer Los Angeles could make. Unless he’s keen on staying with the team, there’s a very good shot Horton-Tucker lands with another team.