NBA Front Offices ‘Curious’ About Future of $30 Million Ex-Lakers Guard

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope

Getty Kentavious Caldwell-Pope

Contenders will have to pay good money to keep their title-winning core intact. Because of that, the Denver Nuggets have some decisions to make regarding former Los Angeles Lakers champion Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.

Yahoo Sports! Jake Fischer reported that teams will pay attention to whether the Nuggets plan to pay good money to keep Caldwell-Pope.

“Denver’s projection toward becoming a second-apron team also has opposing front-office personnel curious to see if the Nuggets will pony up to keep two-way veteran Kentavious Caldwell-Pope beyond this season when he will have to decide on a $15 million player option for ’24-25 he appears very capable of exceeding on the open market,” Fischer wrote in an April 30 story.

Caldwell-Pope helped the Nuggets win their first championship as a franchise in 2023. Because he has experience helping two separate teams win titles, Caldwell-Pope holds plenty of appeal to teams trying to win.

He helped the Lakers win their 17th championship in 2020. As part of his two-year, $30 million contract, he has a player option for the 2024-25 season worth $15.4 million.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope Called Nuggets ‘Toughest Decision’

Keeping Caldwell-Pope will be harder for the Nuggets than it would usually be. Bleacher Report’s Dan Favale explained in a May 2 story why keeping Caldwell-Pope will be the Nuggets’ “toughest decision.” He started with how it might be difficult knowing the Nuggets’ cap situation.

“Things get dicey when the dreaded second apron is involved. And as of now, the Nuggets profile as a “super-tax” squad—before ever baking in a raise for KCP.”

He added that Caldwell-Pope’s value as a player is why Denver shouldn’t even second-guess the decision.

“He is among the league’s grittiest, most underappreciated guard and wing defenders and fits like a glove across any offensive system. Tack on a shallow free-agent market, and his infinitely scalable skill set could earn him multiyear windfalls north of $20 million annually.

“Denver shouldn’t care. The 31-year-old is an invaluable member of a championship core. Having Christian Braun, Peyton Watson and Julian Strawther waiting in the wings doesn’t change that. The Nuggets won’t have the financial resources, trade assets or in-house experience to adequately replace him.”

Trading away Caldwell-Pope in their deal for Russell Westbrook played a part in missing the playoffs in 2022. Caldwell-Pope, on the other hand, helped take the Nuggets to new heights not seen before in franchise history.

Keeping D’Angelo Russell Called Lakers ‘Toughest Decision’

While the Nuggets have to decide what to do with Caldwell-Pope, the Lakers themselves have something similar with D’Angelo Russell.

Bleacher Report’s Dan Favale outlined why keeping Russell will be hard for the Lakers to decide.

“He sounds like he’ll decline his $18.7 million and explore free agency. That’s probably the right call. He is coming off another unspectacular playoff performance but wrapped up the regular season averaging 18.0 points and 6.3 assists while downing 41.5 percent of his triples, including a 39.1 percent clip on off-the-dribble treys.

“Cap-space teams in search of secondary ball-handling and spacing will surely sniff around his asking price. The Lakers have a trounce card (his Bird rights) and can’t hope to replace what he brings using some version of the mid-level exception. But part of his appeal last summer was a contract structure specifically formulated to be traded. The terms may not be as favorable this time around.”

Read More