Caldwell-Pope is obviously the Lakers’ far-less heralded free agent addition of the day, given that LeBron James just agreed to terms with the Lakers earlier on Sunday, but his return is still a meaningful one given that the Lakers will need all of the useful shooters and defenders alongside James that they can get.
Caldwell-Pope is helpful on both fronts, as he shot a career-high 42.6 percent from 3-point range last season and was one of the Lakers’ best defenders, a rangy guard who allowed the team to shield Lonzo Ball from having to defend the best opposing ballhandler every night during his rookie season.
Surely helping Caldwell-Pope’s return as much as his fit with the Lakers was his status as a fellow client of Klutch Sports, the agency that just-so-coincidentally happens to represent LeBron, which could have aided the Lakers in getting this pair of deals done so quickly in concurrency with one another.
Between Caldwell-Pope’s deal and James’ new contract, the Lakers suddenly have fairly limited cap space left for the rest of free agency:
Lakers have about $13.8 mil left to either keep Randle or go after another player -- or they can stretch Deng and have $23.6 mil -- or if they trade Deng for $0 salary back, $31 mil left to spend— Eric Pincus (@EricPincus) July 2, 2018
Still, the Lakers are in a legitimately good place to go get some bargains. The lack of cap space around the league means that this summer is a buyer’s market, and with James in the fold to entice players on the court and all of the awesome opportunities Los Angeles offers off of it, the Lakers should be able to go and get a few more helpful players, even if they can’t complete a deal for Kawhi Leonard.