From the moment he signed with the Lakers, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope was tossed into trade rumors. Seen more as a signing of convenience given the situation on both sides more than one of need, Caldwell-Pope was never treated like the important role player he was for the Lakers during his entire tenure.
That mostly showed in the way he was constantly in trade rumors for the Lakers. An unfortunate constant side effect that comes with donning the purple and gold, Caldwell-Pope’s name was constantly thrown into trade rumors before he eventually was, in fact, traded as part of a package to Washington this offseason for Russell Westbrook.
Caldwell-Pope will make his return to Los Angeles on Friday for his first game against the Lakers since the trade, and he talked about his time with the Lakers with Mark Medina of NBA.com, including being constantly linked in trades.
“Every single year with the Lakers, I was in trade talks,” Caldwell-Pope said. “Some of it was true. Some of it wasn’t.”
Partially a product of the contracts he signed and the tradeable nature of them as expiring deals, Caldwell-Pope was repeatedly put into trade rumors throughout his time in LA. At the same time, the Lakers — and specifically the Lakers with LeBron James — also generate more trade rumors than any other NBA team and franchise.
Some of it is the Lakers' constant desire to acquire superstars, some of it is the win-now mentality that comes with having James on the roster. The result is basically everyone not named James being included in trade rumors at some point or another.
It takes a certain type of mentality to deal with those constant rumors, and Lakers fans have seen both ends of the spectrum with the 2018-19 Lakers imploding around whispers about an Anthony Davis deal, and the 2019-20 version winning a title in spite of all the pressure.
Eventually, after all those rumors, Caldwell-Pope was dealt this offseason alongside Kyle Kuzma to Washington. Kuzma spoke about a freedom on the court this season that came as a result, and Caldwell-Pope spoke about not being surprised by the trade in the end.
Both Kuzma and Caldwell-Pope believe the move benefitted them, too.
“I felt like it was a great opportunity that it was going to happen because of who they were getting,” Caldwell-Pope said. “So, I figured it would happen. Then it did. I was right. I didn’t think too much of it. I guess it was time for me to move on.”
Unfortunately, it has not been a mutually beneficial move for both parties. While Kuzma and Caldwell-Pope have seen an uptick in production in Washington, the Lakers have not gotten the same positive results in return.
Ironically, Kuzma and Caldwell-Pope are two archetypes of players — 3-and-D wings — that the Lakers sorely need now. Perhaps there is a lesson here in the grass not always being greener and appreciating what you have. But the Lakers are always in search of big swings, and trade rumors are always going to persist. Fortunately for Kuzma and Caldwell-Pope, it at least worked out for one of the sides involved.