Kentavious Caldwell-Pope

Western Notes: Caldwell-Pope, Wolves, Bertans

The Lakers were motivated to sign shooting guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope because he shares the same agent as LeBron James, sources indicated to Dave McMenamin of ESPN.com. Caldwell-Pope was inked to a one-year, $18MM contract after the Pistons cut ties with the restricted free agent this summer. Rich Paul represents both Caldwell-Pope and James. Signing Caldwell-Pope allows the Lakers to keep the lines of communication open with Paul and show how they run their organization, among other benefits, McMenamin continues. James is expected to opt out of the final year of his contract next summer and become an unrestricted free agent.

In other nuggets regarding the Western Conference:

  • The Timberwolves will host some free agents this week, Darren Wolfson of KSTP tweets. Wolfson didn’t name the free agents who are visiting but added that the club has grown antsy waiting on decisions from free agents Shabazz Muhammad and Dante Cunningham. Muhammad is reportedly mulling a contract offer from the Lakers, while the Pelicans and Bucks are also pursuing Cunningham.
  • Spurs forward Davis Bertans suffered a finger injury in Latvia’s loss to Serbia during the Eurobasket tournament, Kurt Helin of NBCSports.com tweets. Bertans’ finger isn’t broken, according to X-rays, so it shouldn’t affect his status for the NBA’s regular season.
  • Kings assistant Elston Turner and his family were displaced from their suburban Houston home by Hurricane Harvey, Ailene Voison of the Sacramento Bee reports. Turner gives his account of evacuating his home and describes the havoc and damage caused by the hurricane. He’s been uplifted by the support of the Kings’ brass and coaches, Voison adds.

More Notes On Tampering Investigation

As we discussed yesterday, the Lakers were fined $500K by the NBA for tampering with 2018 free agent Paul George. Sports Illustrated’s Michael McCann quickly explored the penalty in detail, noting that the league in general has a “decidedly low-bar” for the prohibited act.

Considering the wording of the league’s constitution, there is no specific means of contact that’s permissible or not. Teams are, the constitution says, “forbidden from any kind of attempt to persuade” either individuals or team personnel, emphasis mine.

Another troublesome point of ambiguity McMann highlights is the fact that there need not be any proof that the tampering attempt actually swayed the individual, it’s solely the attempt that the league is concerned about.

All told, the Lakers have little choice but to pony up the cash for the fine but McMann doesn’t think that the penalty will dissuade teams from repeating the behavior in the future.

That’s not all we have about tampering this evening:

  • If you’ve heard the Pat Riley Heat/Knicks tampering example offered up as a precedent for the Lakers’ recent situation, note that there is one critical difference. Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders tweets that the $1MM the Heat paid the Knicks in 1995 was a settlement and not a league-enforced penalty.
  • The Lakers may have bought themselves a year of contact with LeBron James‘s agent ahead of the 2018 free agency period, Dave McMenamin of ESPN writes, and all it cost them was the $18MM they committed to another Rich Paul client, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.
  • Don’t expect Pacers President of Basketball Operations Kevin Pritchard to put up a fuss about the league’s ruling on the tampering investigation. “We accept the league’s findings,” he told Tania Ganguli of the Los Angeles Times.
  • …do expect the Indiana media. Gregg Doyel of the Indianapolis Star suggests that the relatively small fine is but a slap on the wrist for a Lakers franchise worth $3B. The scribe offers alternative penalties that he says would have had more of an impact.

Pistons Notes: Roster Turnover, New Arena, Leuer

The Pistons had the chance to bring back the core of their 2016/17 squad this offseason, but elected to swap continuity for the possibility of a better situation, Keith Langlois of NBA.com explains.

Detroit has undergone serious roster turnover since executive/coach Stan Van Gundy arrived in town with only one player — Andre Drummond — remaining on the roster from the team which Van Gundy inherited. This summer, the franchise had the opportunity to bring back Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and allow the core time to gel. However, by letting KCP walk, trading for Avery Bradley and carving out a bigger role for Stanley Johnson, the team will for the third straight season try to incorporate new pieces.

Langlois believes the team’s offseason moves will allow the Pistons to become more diverse on the offensive end as well as remain flexible in the accounting department. Had the organization inked KCP to a long-term deal, it would have been meant approaching or surpassing the luxury tax and it would have created difficulties if the team needed any substantial changes. As it stands, Detroit has a season to evaluate how Johnson progresses and Bradley fits before making a decision on capping out the roster.

Here’s more from Detroit:

  • The Pistons are set to move downtown to a new arena next season, though they may face one last hurdle in their efforts to do so. Christine Ferretti of The Detroit News reports.  A small group filed a lawsuit against the City of Detroit over the $34.5MM in public funding which will go to the new arena.
  • Jon Leuer made several changes this offseason as he prepares for his second season with the Pistons, relays Langlois in a separate story. He focused more than ever on three-point shooting and has decided to continue to vigorously lift weights through the season to counter last year’s decline in productivity after the All-Star break. “I lift really hard in the off-season and preseason and that keeps my weight up and keeps me stronger. Jordan was saying there’s even a testosterone boost when you lift more, so I think that’s something toward the end of the season I’ll be conscious of to hopefully maintain a high level of play,” said Leuer. Van Gundy says that he views Leuer as a starter, but that he will have plenty of choices at power forward.
  • For everything Pistons, check out the team page.

Pacific Notes: Ingram, Beverley, KCP

The Lakers have been active and persistent this offseason, from drafting UCLA product Lonzo Ball, to shipping out former first round pick D’Angelo Russell to the Nets, to signing Kentavious Caldwell-Pope to a one-year deal. While trade talks persist, the team is adamantly against trading last year’s second overall pick Brandon Ingram, Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News writes.

Ingram, soon-to-be 20 years old, did not post eye-popping numbers in his rookie season, averaging 9.4 PPG, 4.1 RPG and shot 40.2 % from the floor. However, his work ethic and potential is the reason why Lakers brass has been abruptly ending phone calls once opposing teams inquire about his availability. Team president Magic Johnson‘s endorsement is a glowing one for the Duke product.

“The guy only cares about winning and basketball,” Johnson said. “He’s quiet and doesn’t do anything else. He is a very intelligent young man and is our hardest worker.”

As the Lakers continue their drift toward youth, Ingram figures to crack the starting lineup next season. Alongside the hotshot prospect Ball, veteran acquisition Lopez, and other youngsters, Ingram’s development remains a crucial point and goal for the Lakers.

Below are additional notes surrounding the Lakers and the Pacific division:

  • The Lakers‘ signing of KCP is a risk for both sides but one that could pay dividends, Tania Ganguli of the Los Angeles Times writes. Caldwell-Pope signed a one-year, $18MM deal with Los Angeles and was introduced earlier this week. The Lakers’ hope is that the 24-year-old, who is technically considered a veteran as he enters his fifth NBA season, will be a leader for a young team.
  • Conversely, Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press ponders whether KCP’s decision to reject a four-year, $80MM offer from the Pistons last season was a wise move. While KCP will do fine financially this season, injuries, poor performance, and a change in the market could harm his value after 2017/18. Caldwell-Pope’s hope will be to have a strong season and hit the market at 25 years old looking for security.
  • Mark Medina adds in a separate piece that the Lakers are looking to fill out their roster in the next few weeks.
  • One of the Clippers‘ many acquisitions in the Chris Paul sign-and-trade was defensive standout Patrick Beverley. USA Today highlighted Beverly and his desire to not be compared with Paul and rather let his game speak for itself. Many Clippers officials are also quoted in stating their longtime appreciation of Beverley’s talents.

Lakers Sign Kentavious Caldwell-Pope

July 13: The signing is official, according to the team’s website.

July 11: The Lakers have reached an agreement to sign free agent shooting guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, according to Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Windhorst reports that Caldwell-Pope will receive a one-year, $18MM deal from the club.Kentavious CaldwellPope vertical

[RELATED: 2017 NBA Free Agent Tracker]

It has been an unusual offseason for Caldwell-Pope, who entered the summer with aspirations of a long-term maximum salary contract, or at least something close to it. However, after they signed Langston Galloway and traded for Avery Bradley, the Pistons determined that Caldwell-Pope was no longer in their future plans, identifying Bradley as the franchise’s shooting guard of the future instead.

A report last week suggested that the Pistons were at one point willing to go up to $80MM over five years for Caldwell-Pope, which “wasn’t even close” to what he was seeking. Unable to find common ground with KCP, Detroit renounced his rights, putting the Lakers in play as a potential suitor. Los Angeles has been unwilling to offer more than one-year contracts this month, and while that wouldn’t have been enough to pry Caldwell-Pope away as a restricted free agent, he was apparently willing to settle for a one-year “balloon” deal as a UFA.

By accepting a one-year contract with the Lakers, Caldwell-Pope should have the opportunity to take on a key scoring role with the team in 2017/18, and will set himself up for a return to unrestricted free agency a year from now.

Although the Georgia native has shown promise as a two-way wing, his production hasn’t really increased since 2014/15. Last season, he averaged a modest 13.8 PPG and 3.3 RPG, with a .399/.350/.832 shooting line. At age 24, he’s a very solid defender, and if he can show an improved offensive game, he’d be in position for a much bigger payday in 2018.

As for the Lakers, they’ll add a promising young wing on something of a trial basis, maintaining their cap flexibility for next summer, when stars like LeBron James, Paul George, and others will reach free agency. While the Lakers figure to prioritize those All-Star free agents, Caldwell-Pope could be a nice Plan B for the team if he plays well in his first season in L.A.

The Lakers entered the day with about $17MM in cap room, so based on the terms of Caldwell-Pope’s deal, it’s possible the club will waive David Nwaba – who has a non-guaranteed contract – or another player to create a little more space. There has been no indication yet of a corresponding roster move, however.

Once they make the Caldwell-Pope signing official, the Lakers will have their $4.3MM room exception available for free agents. According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link), the team is still trying to land Rajon Rondo, though it’s not clear if that room exception would be enough for the veteran point guard.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Lakers Meet With Caldwell-Pope, Rondo

The Lakers met with unrestricted free agent Kentavious Caldwell-Pope on Tuesday, reports Brian Windhorst of ESPN. Also today, Lakers team president Magic Johnson met with free agent point guard Rajon Rondo, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (link via Twitter).

According to Windhorst, several teams that were initially reluctant to engage on Caldwell-Pope have become more involved since the Pistons withdrew his qualifying offer, making him an unrestricted free agent. Meanwhile, multiple teams with some cap room are exploring ways to create more in order to make a competitive offer, per Windhorst.

The Lakers have roughly $17MM in cap room left. The team will also be able to offer $4.3MM with its room exception once its cap space has been used. L.A. has been unwilling to offer multiyear deals that would compromise its cap flexibility for 2018.

Regarding the Rondo meeting, Mark Medina of The L.A. Daily news tweets that the Lakers expressed “serious interest” in the point guard and plan to follow up soon. The team has been on the lookout for a veteran point guard to pair with Lonzo Ball, serving as a mentor for the No. 2 overall pick.

Pistons Notes: KCP, Galloway, Johnson, Moreland

The Pistons were still undecided whether they would match any offer sheet for restricted free agent Kentavious Caldwell-Pope until the Celtics offered shooting guard Avery Bradley and a draft pick for small forward Marcus Morris, according to Keith Langlois of Pistons.com. Though the Pistons reached an agreement with Langston Galloway during the first day of free agency, they were still hoping to re-sign Caldwell-Pope until Boston came calling, Langlois continues. The Pistons renounced their rights to Caldwell-Pope after the trade with Boston was finalized. Galloway will receive playing time at both guard positions, Langlois adds.

In other news regarding the team:

  • Coach Stan Van Gundy believes Stanley Johnson will bounce back from a disappointing sophomore campaign in part because he will play his natural small forward position regularly, Langlois writes. Johnson, who could become a starter in the aftermath of the Morris trade, might even play some power forward in smaller lineups.
  • The Pistons originally planned to sign big man Eric Moreland to a two-way contract if he impressed during the Orlando Summer League, Langlois notes in the same piece. Moreland exceeded all expectations, especially at the defensive end, and that’s what led to the team signing him to a three-year contract with a partial guarantee.
  • Van Gundy and GM Jeff Bower tried to trade for Galloway in recent seasons before landing him in free agency, Rod Beard of the Detroit News writes. “Langston Galloway has been a guy that Jeff and I have had an interest in virtually from the time we got here, when he was in New York [with the Knicks],” Van Gundy told Beard and the assembled media. “This year, when he was in New Orleans and Sacramento, we’ve made inquiries about trying to get him. It’s been a long process for us to try to bring Langston here.”
  • Palace Sports & Entertainment, which owns the team, and Olympia Entertainment, which owns the new Little Caesars Arena in Detroit, were added to a federal lawsuit seeking to force a vote over the use of $34.5MM in public funding to finance the Pistons’ move, Katrease Stafford of the Detroit Free Press reports. The Pistons will share the arena with the NHL’s Red Wings, who are also owned by Olympia.

Nets Notes: Carroll, Free Agents, Aldrich, Draft Pick

Brooklyn GM Sean Marks got Raptors president Masai Ujiri to sweeten the deal involving DeMarre Carroll as they talked during Saturday’s games at the Las Vegas Summer League, writes Brian Lewis of The New York Post. Toronto’s original offer involved just Carroll and a first-round pick, but Marks was able to convince Ujiri to send along a second-rounder and take back the $3MM contract of Justin Hamilton.

The deal provides needed cap relief for the Raptors, while giving the Nets a replacement for Otto Porter after the Wizards announced their intention to match Brooklyn’s four-year, $106.5MM offer sheet. The trade may not be finalized before Thursday while the Nets wait for the Wizards to conduct Porter’s physical and report the results to the league.

There’s more today out of Brooklyn:

  • With nearly $17MM left in cap space along with a $4.3MM room exception, the Nets will move on to other targets in free agency, Lewis adds. They were believed to be interested in Pistons’ guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, but the Carroll trade prevents them from making a max offer. Caldwell-Pope turned down $80MM over five years from Detroit, but his options may be limited now as fewer teams have cap room to work with. Other possibilities for Brooklyn are C.J. Miles, Dewayne Dedmon, Nikola Mirotic or another restricted free agent in JaMychal Green. Coach Kenny Atkinson sees the value in having an older player around. “I do think [Marks and I] both agree that we don’t want to go in with a totally young roster,” he said. “We do need that veteran support. If it’s the right position where somebody can help us, it’s definitely something [to consider].”
  • Saturday’s deal may end the Timberwolves’ hopes of getting the Nets to take on Cole Aldrich’s salary, Lewis notes in the same piece. Minnesota wants to unload Aldrich, who will make $7.3MM in the upcoming season and nearly $6.9MM in 2018/19, to create enough cap room to sign Miles. However, Marks wouldn’t agree to the deal unless the Wolves threw in Oklahoma City’s 2018 first-rounder.
  • The second-rounder the Nets will receive in the Carroll deal will probably be the lower of the Magic or Lakers picks, according to a tweet from NetsDaily. Brooklyn already has the rights to the Pacers’ 2018 second-rounder if Indiana misses the playoffs.

Community Shootaround: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope

After the Pistons‘ acquisition of Avery Bradley from the Celtics, the team promptly renounced restricted free agent Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. The move puts Caldwell-Pope on the open market, free to sign with any NBA team and there has been no shortage of interest in the 24-year-old guard.

The Lakers are reportedly interested in Caldwell-Pope on a one-year commitment whereas the Nets have remained a suitor — and were expected to issue him an offer sheet before he hit unrestricted free agency. The Nets’ cap space is currently tied up after issuing a four-year, $101MM max offer sheet to Otto Porter. While the Wizards are believed to match the offer sheet, the Nets can continue their pursuit of KCP through discussion with his camp about a potential offer if and when Brooklyn retains cap space.

Los Angeles has about $17MM in cap space, which the team can use on a potential one-year deal. The Nets are more interested in long term pacts, especially after acquiring former second overall pick D’Angelo Russell from the Lakers. It’s ironic that the Lakers could have assembled a Caldwell-Pope/Russell back court and now the Nets are in a better position to do so.

In his fourth NBA season in 2016/17, Caldwell-Pope averaged 13.8 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 2.5 APG, and shot nearly 40% from the floor in 76 contests. His numbers have not seen a drastic improvement but – given his age and ability – his potential may outweigh his production as teams consider his worth.

One minor detail to remember for any team interested in Caldwell-Pope’s services is that he’s suspended for the first two games of the 2017/18 season. Therefore, he will be eligible for 80 out of 82 games but that will likely not impact any teams pursuit.

With all of this in mind, which destination is most ideal for Caldwell-Pope? Does a one-year investment or a long term teal make more sense for the 24-year-old? Which team would benefit most from plugging him into their starting lineup?

Celtics Trade Avery Bradley To Pistons

2:56pm: The Celtics and Pistons have sent out press releases confirming that Bradley and a 2019 second-round pick are headed to Detroit in exchange for Morris. The deal is now official.AveryBradley vertical

9:17am: The Celtics and Pistons are finalizing a trade that will send Avery Bradley to Detroit, league sources tell ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. According to Shams Charania of The Vertical, Boston will also send out a 2019 second-round pick and will receive Marcus Morris in the swap.

Because Morris’ $5MM salary for 2017/18 is about $3.8MM lower than Bradley’s figure, the move will allow the Celtics to create the cap room necessary to finalize their maximum salary deal with Gordon Hayward, per Bobby Marks of ESPN. The club also has the $4.328MM room exception available for another free agent.

[RELATED: Gordon Hayward to sign four-year deal with Celtics]

Boston had reportedly been shopping Bradley, Jae Crowder, and Marcus Smart in an effort to clear enough space for Hayward’s new contract. With Bradley on the move, Crowder and Smart are poised to stay put, at least for now.

In addition to creating some cap space, the trade will add a power forward to a Celtics rotation that is in need of bigs. So far this offseason, the Celtics have waived Tyler Zeller and lost Amir Johnson and Kelly Olynyk in free agency, creating some frontcourt concerns for a team that already lacked reliable rim protection and rebounding. Morris isn’t an elite rebounder, but the 6’9″ forward has the ability to guard bigger players.

During his two seasons in Detroit, Morris missed just five regular season games, making 159 starts for the Pistons. He averaged 14.1 PPG, 4.8 RPG, and 2.3 APG, with a shooting line of .426/.345/.763.

As for the Pistons’ side of the swap, the team had entered the offseason with a need for some backcourt depth and has now added Bradley and Langston Galloway. With Detroit’s payroll on the rise and its backcourt filling up, it will be interesting to see whether the team remains committed to retaining Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.

By exceeding the taxpayer mid-level exception to sign Galloway, the Pistons created a hard cap of $125.266MM, significantly limiting their ability to match a big offer sheet for KCP unless they can shed a contract or two. Team salary is currently in about the $109MM range. For what it’s worth, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst (Twitter link) suggests the club’s talks with Caldwell-Pope haven’t progressed, and speculates that the team may make him unrestricted or decline to match an offer sheet.

Bradley, 26, enjoyed his best season in 2016/17 on a per-game basis, averaging new career bests in PPG (16.3), RPG (6.1), APG (2.2), and a handful of other categories. He also provided excellent perimeter defense and shot .463/.390/.731.

Although Bradley is a very solid pickup for the Pistons, he’ll be an unrestricted free agent a year from now, which is perhaps one reason the Celtics ended up moving him — Crowder remains under contract for three years, while Smart is a restricted free agent next summer and Morris has two years left on his deal, so the team retains some control on all three of those players. Wojnarowski suggests that the Pistons may be aggressive in pursuing a new deal for Bradley, who is extension-eligible, but the team’s cap situation limits its ability to give him a major raise before next summer.

Before agreeing to a trade with the Pistons, the Celtics reportedly talked to the Jazz about a sign-and-trade involving Crowder and to the Knicks about a deal that would have included Smart. Wojnarowski adds (via Twitter) that the Lakers and Clippers were “prominent in [Bradley] talks until the end.”

As an aside, it’s worth noting that the NBA’s new Collective Bargaining Agreement was put to good use in this deal. Under the new CBA, over-the-cap teams are permitted to take back 175% of their outgoing salary, plus $100K, instead of 150% plus $100K (up to a $5MM difference in salaries). In the old system, Detroit would only have been able to take back up to $7.6MM for Morris, but the new CBA allows the team to squeeze in Bradley’s $8.809MM salary.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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