It took the Los Angeles Lakers nearly two weeks to land a free agent, but the patience was well worth it. The purple and gold signed Kentavious Caldwell-Pope to a one-year contract worth approximately $18 million, addressing a major need in their guard rotation.
Caldwell-Pope is immediately the best defender in the Lakers’ backcourt and has four years worth of experience with the Detroit Pistons to bring to the table. Jordan Clarkson and Lonzo Ball are getting a massive helping hand defensively, and the team as a whole should be much better for it.
Lakers head coach Luke Walton joined Zach Lowe’s The Lowe Post podcast and discussed a wide variety of Lakers topics, one of which was the KCP signing and how well he fits on the current roster.
"[Caldwell-Pope] really is [a great fit]. It's tough to just say 'Here's our starting five' but he's a really good fit for that spot. I'm a big fan on competition and earning your spot. It's why it took Brandon (Ingram) so long to get in the starting line-up last year because I want him with the pride and the feeling of like 'I earned this starting spot...and I'm never giving them spot up because I took this.'
“It's different because he was a rookie. KCP's kind of been in this league and proven himself. I'd say most likely, yeah that's what it looks like, Brandon on one wing, him on the other,” Walton said.
While Luke may be trying to be non-committal about the starting lineup, it seems like a fairly simple starting five. The expectation should be the Lakers starting Ball, Caldwell-Pope, Brandon Ingram, Julius Randle and Brook Lopez together, which is the simplest way to proceed.
Rob Pelinka and Magic Johnson were both clear that help at both guard positions, defense and three-point shooting were key areas they hoped to address in free agency without committing long-term money.
Signing Kentavious to a one-year deal, as deep into free agency as the Lakers were, may have been the best fit possible for next season. If he can build on shooting 35 percent from deep last year — which the Lakers are surely hope sees an uptick when Caldwell-Pope is on the receiving end of passes from Ball — then it’ll be an even sweeter outcome for LA.