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Kentavious Caldwell-Pope doesn’t mind moving to the bench: ‘Whatever it takes to win’

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope wasn’t bothered by head coach Luke Walton’s decision to remove him from the starting lineup for the Lakers.

NBA: Los Angeles Lakers at Phoenix Suns Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Before the Los Angeles Lakers tipped off against the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday night, head coach Luke Walton said he was considering making a few last-minute changes to his starting lineup. Many fans expected that Kentavious Caldwell-Pope would be removed in favor of Josh Hart, and they guessed right.

To his credit, Hart earned his spot in the starting lineup, averaging an impressive 17 points off the bench through his first three games, but Caldwell-Pope didn’t do himself any favors either.

Leading up to Wednesday’s game, Caldwell-Pope was averaging 4.7 points on 26.7 percent shooting from the field while averaging 21.3 minutes per game. There are only a select few players in the NBA that can struggle that much and keep their starting job, and Caldwell-Pope isn’t one of them.

It surely wasn’t the start to the season the 25-year-old shooting guard was hoping for, but in spite of his rough stretch, Caldwell-Pope told Bill Oram of The Athletic he is hopeful things will turn around for him eventually, and he also shared his thoughts on being moved to the bench.

Caldwell-Pope had his best game of the season by a wide margin against the Suns, scoring a season-high 14 points and finishing with a box plus-minus of +5, but he still has a little while to go before he is in the conversation for a starting job again.

Perhaps things would be different if it was just a shooting slump, but it’s not. Caldwell-Pope has also regressed on the defensive end, which was arguably the most reliable part of his game last season.

If he can’t shoot or defend, he has little-to-no value to the Lakers, or any NBA team for that matter. That’s not an ideal situation for a player the front office invested $12 million in this summer.

It’s still very early into the season and Caldwell-Pope didn’t start showing signs of life until the second part of last season, so there’s a decent chance he turns thing around, but the Lakers need a spike in production from him sooner rather than later if he wants to be a big part of the rotation.

You can follow this author on Twitter at @RadRivas.

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