The Los Angeles Lakers have finally signed a free agent. After meeting with Kentavious Caldwell-Pope earlier Tuesday, the Los Angeles Lakers have signed him to a one-year, $18 million deal, according to Brian Windhorst of ESPN.
Caldwell-Pope was almost inarguably the best option left for the Lakers on the market, a 6-5, athletic, 24-year old shooting guard who averaged 13.8 points and shooting 35 percent on 3-pointers last season while playing above-average defense.
Bobby Marks of ESPN adds that “the Lakers had $16.5M in room and will likely need to make a roster move to open up additional cap space” in order to fit Caldwell-Pope’s contract.
Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report notes that the Lakers could waive David Nwaba’s non-guaranteed salary and then re-sign him at the veteran’s minimum.
Money-wise, the Lakers could also move a player like Larry Nance, Jr., Ivica Zubac, Kyle Kuzma or Josh Hart for a draft pick or into another team’s cap space in order to give them just enough to sign Caldwell-Pope to the agreed upon deal.
The Lakers might also try to trade the expiring contract of Corey Brewer or the three years and around 37.5 million on Jordan Clarkson’s contract.
In addition to his talent, potentially motivating the Lakers to sign Caldwell-Pope is their pursuit of Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James next summer.
According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, "Caldwell-Pope is a player they feel could help them long-term, but it's a prelude to their pursuit of LeBron James, potentially.”
Wojnarowski reported that “as the Lakers' pursuit of LeBron James heats up, they bring in someone from Klutch Sports, and the one thing I think anybody knows if you're going to get at LeBron James, you need a roster of two-way players.”
Wojnarowski then added the Lakers’ plan could be to “sign [Caldwell-Pope] at a high number for one year, create more cap space next year and re-sign him to an extension as the Lakers try to pursue Paul George and LeBron James... Whether Paul is willing to do that one-year deal remains to be seen, but that's what the Lakers are pitching."
The Lakers’ plan is unknown, and their pursuit of James remains a pipe-dream. For now though, the team has significantly made its roster better for next season without eating into their cap space for their superstar-hungry summer of 2018. That’s about all fans could reasonably ask for, and all of a sudden the Lakers’ summer looks pretty solid.
All stats per NBA.com. and Basketball-Reference.com. Harrison Faigen is co-host of the Locked on Lakers podcast (subscribe here), and you can follow him on Twitter at @hmfaigen.