Speculation about how much longer Kentavious Caldwell-Pope will be a member of the Los Angeles Lakers began to swirl on Sunday night, when trade rumors surfaced that Caldwell-Pope was being brought up in potential packages L.A. might use to acquire Phoenix Suns forward Trevor Ariza.
Those rumors were pushed back on a bit by the local media in Phoenix on Monday, and but then — predictably — they seemed to heat back up again on Tuesday night.
In between those peaks and valleys of rumormongering, the Lakers played a game on Monday night, and Caldwell-Pope didn’t have his best performance of the year, scoring 11 points on 11 shots before being benched in favor of Lance Stephenson, of all people.
After the game, however, Caldwell-Pope didn’t blame any of his struggles on the whispers about his job security, even if he admits he hears the noise (via Kyle Goon of the O.C. Register):
Caldwell-Pope isn’t deaf to the circling rumors about him being traded: He allowed the slightest of smiles to escape as he was asked about the difficulty of dealing with such reports. But he also said he’s not too worried about it, either.
“I’m just focused right now,” he said. “Playing here now.”
This is the right approach, and on the bright side for Caldwell-Pope, he does have a 15 percent trade kicker if the Lakers deal him, so at least he’d get an extra couple million if he’s moved.
Caldwell-Pope also in a better situation than most players dealing with rumors they might be dealt, as by virtue of re-signing with the Lakers on a one-year deal with Bird rights he has a de-factor no-trade clause and can reject any destination he doesn’t like.
Put more simply, he can look at a potential team and say “Kentavious Caldwell-Nope,” if you will.
Caldwell-Pope may not reject a trade though, both for the short-term monetary advantage of the trade kicker, and for his long-term earning potential. Caldwell-Pope has rebounded since his rough start to the season, but he’s hardly going to have as much opportunity to make himself a lot of money in Los Angeles as he would on a team that has more of a need for him (and a team that would thus give him more minutes).
All this speculation is moot for now though. Caldwell-Pope doesn’t make a ton of sense for the Suns, so unless the Lakers and his agent, Rich Paul, can find a team that is a better fit and can give the Suns something they want, this deal still can’t be done. Such a team may exist, but until they pop to the forefront, all this appears to just be the Suns trying to build leverage in their discussions about Ariza with other teams.
As always with these things, we’ll see what happens, and learn a lot more when players who signed last summer — like Caldwell-Pope and Ariza — are eligible to be moved.
All stats per NBA.com and Basketball-Reference.com. You can follow Harrison on Twitter at @hmfaigen.