Kentavious Caldwell-Pope

‘Legal Matter’ To Affect Caldwell-Pope’s Availability

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope missed the Lakers’ game Thursday in Cleveland and will sit out a few more as he resolves a legal issue, according to Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.

Caldwell-Pope was sentenced to 12 months’ probation after pleading guilty in May to a misdemeanor offense of allowing someone to operate his vehicle while under the influence. He had been cited with operating a vehicle while intoxicated, but pleaded down to the lesser charge. On Thursday, he began what Shelburne described as an “intensive” 25-day program that will result in an early end to the probation.

Caldwell-Pope is not permitted to leave California until the program is completed, tweets Tania Ganguli of The Los Angeles Times. The Lakers have just three games outside the state during that time  — Wednesday and December 31 in Houston and January 1 in Minnesota.

“While a member of the Detroit Pistons last year, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope plead guilty to a misdemeanor offense of allowing someone to operate his vehicle under the influence,” read a statement released by attorney Jeffrey Lance Abood. “As a condition of that plea, he was subject to extremely strict and challenging compliance terms by the court. Kentavious complied with most of the terms of his probation and he has had no further driving or other infractions since that time.

“As a result of his professional basketball work schedule, the court has modified the sentence and released him from probation early so long as he completes an intensive program over the next 25 days. There will be some travel restrictions, but we are pleased that Kentavious will now continue with his NBA season and move forward in a positive manner from this experience.”

Caldwell-Pope, who signed with the Lakers in July, was suspended for the first two games of the season under the NBA’s personal conduct policy. Shelburne reports that he is expected to rejoin the team this weekend for practice.

He is averaging 14.2 points in 24 games, all as a starter, and is shooting a career-high 42% from 3-point range.

“I am grateful for the Court’s consideration and for the support of the Los Angeles Lakers and all involved in allowing me to continue with my NBA season while I complete the strict requirements set by the Court,” Caldwell-Pope said in a prepared statement. “I understand the seriousness of this matter and I apologize for my past actions that have created this situation. Now I am committed to becoming a better person and professional from now on.”

Lakers Notes: Kuzma, Lopez, KCP, Nance Jr.

Rookie power forward Kyle Kuzma had a feeling the Lakers would draft him after his stock rose, Shams Charania of The Vertical reports. Kuzma, who declared after his junior season at Utah, was originally pegged as second-round material who might even go undrafted. Kuzma wound up getting picked 27th overall and has taken the league by storm, posting three double-doubles and three 20-point games. “I knew I was way better than that, better than how people pegged me,” he told Charania. “After I killed draft workouts and the combine, I knew I would go in the first round. I had a good hint that it would be L.A., just because of the workout and my combine interview with them, but I didn’t know until draft night.”

In other items concerning the Lakers:

  • The offense has perked up in recent games and center Brook Lopez has played a big role in that improvement, as Joey Ramirez of the team’s website notes. Lopez, who was acquired in an offseason deal with the Nets, is the NBA’s sixth-highest scorer over the last three games, averaging 27.3 PPG. Kuzma believes improved health has led to Lopez’s offensive outburst, as he told Ramirez. “The whole preseason he was really bad with a back injury and little nicks and bruises,” Kuzma said. “You can tell he’s getting back to the Nets version of Brook Lopez.”
  • Lopez and shooting guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope have helped to stabilize a mostly youthful roster, coach Luke Walton told NBA.com’s David Aldridge. Lopez has provided a steadying force on offense, while Caldwell-Pope has helped establish a defensive mindset, Aldridge adds. Caldwell-Pope signed a one-year, $18MM free agent contract after the Pistons renounced his rights during restricted free agency. “I think KCP coming over, just a hard-nosed player,” Walton told Aldridge. “He’s been in that Eastern Conference, hard worker. He kind of helps set that tone. Brook’s been a solid vet in this league for a long time.”
  • Larry Nance Jr. is frustrated by his latest injury setback, as he told Bill Oram of the Orange County Register and other media members. Nance Jr., who missed multiple games with knee injuries the last two seasons, is out 4-6 weeks with a fractured left hand. He was averaging 10.6 PPG and 7.4 RPG in 23.1 MPG before suffering the injury Thursday. “I was given a really good chance, was making the most of it,” he said. “So I’m just anxious to get back and keep making a good impression.”

Pacific Notes: Curry, Iguodala, Clippers, Suns

Stephen Curry and Andre Iguodala were both fined for their behavior during the Warriors‘ 111-101 loss to the Grizzlies on October 21st. Curry was docked $50K for flinging his mouthpiece at an official. Iguodala’s fine was less severe — $15K for verbally abusing an official.

Warriors coach Steve Kerr was not too rattled by Curry’s antics, sarcastically offering, “I think he should be suspended eight, maybe 10 games. It was egregious. It was awful.”

Here’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • Austin Rivers proffered that the Clippers are a better team without Chris Paul. While careful to note that Paul is a great player, Rivers said that the team has improved its cohesion and competitiveness. “I think we have more talent this year,” Rivers said, per Elliott Teaford of The Daily Breeze. “Look how many pieces we got for one guy. We got a defensive dog (Patrick Beverley). We drafted well.”
  • With the Suns exploring potential trades involving Eric Bledsoe, Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders notes (via Twitter) that Phoenix “looked hard” at Cavaliers swingman Iman Shumpert over the summer, but Shumpert’s player option is a problem for the club.
  • Kentavious Caldwell-Pope made an immediate impact on the Lakers during his debut against the Pelicans. As Bill Oram of The Orange County Register details, Caldwell-Pope nailed a three less than 30 seconds into the game and gives coach Luke Walton a legitimate “3-and-D” option.

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.
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