Kentavious Caldwell-Pope

Lakers Won’t Give Up Top Young Players For Ariza

The Lakers have made four key young players unavailable in their pursuit of wing Trevor Ariza, Brad Turner of the Los Angeles Times tweets. The team will not include Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma or Josh Hart in a potential trade, according to Turner. The Suns turned down a three-team proposal, Turner adds.

The Lakers’ keen interest in working out a deal with the Suns for Ariza, an unrestricted free agent after the season, surfaced in an ESPN report over the weekend. That report indicated Phoenix was seeking playmaking guard, presumably either Ball or Hart, and a draft asset.

Los Angeles has plenty of competition for Ariza as at least eight teams have reached out to Phoenix. Ariza can’t be traded until Saturday, when restrictions on trading players who signed free agent contracts this summer are lifted. Ariza inked a one-year, $15MM contract with the Suns after being a key member of the Rockets last season.

He is averaging 9.8 PPG, 5.5 RPG and 3.3 APG in 33.9 MPG this season for the floundering Suns.

Acquiring Ariza would not only help the Lakers in the short run, his expiring contract would also give them more flexibility in the summer when they pursue top-tier free agents.

Sources confirmed to Turner that the Rockets called about Kentavious Caldwell-Pope‘s availability two weeks ago but no trade is imminent. A report from The Athletic on Wednesday revealed the Rockets were trying to put together a multi-team trade to acquire the Lakers’ shooting guard, who has veto power over any deal.

Rockets Emerging As Suitor For Caldwell-Pope

The Rockets are emerging as a potential suitor for Lakers wing Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic. While no deal is imminent and Houston isn’t the only club interested in Caldwell-Pope, the Rockets appear to be targeting the 25-year-old in multi-team trade scenarios, according to Charania.

On Sunday, we heard that the Lakers and Suns had discussed trade scenarios in which Trevor Ariza would land in Los Angeles and the Lakers would trade away Caldwell-Pope. However, KCP has the power to veto any trade and almost certainly wouldn’t want to end up with the NBA-worst Suns, who in turn wouldn’t have much use for another wing. As such, the Lakers and Suns are said to be on the lookout for a third team to help facilitate a possible deal.

[RELATED: At least eight teams have inquired on Trevor Ariza]

The Rockets make some sense as that third team, given their need for another three-and-D player. Houston would also be a much more favorable landing spot than Phoenix for Caldwell-Pope if he hopes to play a regular role for a contending team this season.

However, the Rockets’ best salary-matching piece in the range of Ariza ($15MM) and Caldwell-Pope ($12MM) is Brandon Knight ($14.63MM), and Houston can’t send him back to Phoenix during the 2018/19 league year, since the Suns traded him away in August. As such, the Rockets, Lakers, and Suns would likely need to search for a fourth team to acquire Knight and draft picks, sources tell Charania.

Ariza and Caldwell-Pope will become trade-eligible on Saturday, so it’s possible that these talks will get more serious at that point.

At Least Eight Teams Have Inquired On Ariza

Suns forward Trevor Ariza won’t officially become eligible to be traded until Saturday, but plenty of potential suitors are checking in now to inquire on his availability. According to John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 (Twitter link), Phoenix has heard from “no less than eight teams” with interest in Ariza.

A report on Sunday indicated that the Lakers were looking to acquire Ariza – who is on a one-year, $15MM contract – and Gambadoro confirms that Los Angeles is indeed one of those clubs that has inquired. However, nothing is close at this point, per Gambadoro, who notes that the Suns aren’t interested in a package of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and a bench player.

Of course, Sunday’s report on L.A.’s interest in Ariza indicated that the Lakers and Suns would have to find a third team to facilitate a deal anyway, since KCP likely wouldn’t have any more interest in joining the last-place Suns than they’d have in acquiring him. Caldwell-Pope has the ability to veto any trade he’s involved in, so he’d require a favorable landing spot if he’s dealt.

Whether they pursue a trade with the Lakers or another team, it seems the Suns will have a number of options with Ariza. Still, Gambadoro cautions (via Twitter) that he doesn’t believe Phoenix is all that interested in adding more projects to its roster — the team wants players that can contribute now.

That’s a somewhat odd stance for a team with an NBA-worst 4-22 record — even if Suns ownership, management, and fans may be tired of perpetually rebuilding, the time seems right to roll the dice on a high-upside “project.” But if Gambadoro’s intel is accurate, that would significantly reduce the odds of a Suns deal involving someone like Markelle Fultz.

Lakers Looking To Acquire Trevor Ariza

One of the worst-kept secrets around the league is the Suns‘ desire to trade Trevor Ariza, a valuable 3-and-D wing who can help a lot of potential playoff teams. Well, it appears the Lakers are the team at the front of the line, as ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski is reporting that the Lakers are working hard to acquire Ariza in a potential three-team trade.

According to Wojnarowski, the Lakers and Suns have been working to reach an agreement with a third team that would take on Lakers guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope as part of a potentially larger deal. It must be pointed out that Caldwell-Pope has veto power on any potential trade, but Wojnarowski also reports that the Lakers have shown a willingness to work with his agent, Rich Paul, if there’s a deal that might increase his role.

Meanwhile, the Suns are reportedly looking to land a playmaking guard and a draft asset as the price of unloading Ariza. Ultimately, Wojnarowski reports that the two teams have made progress on a potential deal, but also that no agreements are close and both teams remain active in multiple trade discussions throughout the league.

This will certainly be something to monitor as it could significantly impact the Western Conference playoff picture. Ariza and Caldwell-Pope both become trade-eligible on December 15.

Free Agent Stock Watch 2019: Pacific Division

Every week, Hoops Rumors takes a closer look at players who will be free agents or could become free agents next offseason. We examine if their stock is rising or falling due to performance and other factors. This week, we turn our attention to the Pacific Division:

Jonas Jerebko, Warriors, PF, 31 (Up) – Signed to a one-year, $2.18MM deal in 2018
Jerebko has bounced around the league the last few seasons but he always stays within his role and provides solid contributions wherever he lands. He’s averaging 7.2 PPG while shooting a career-high 48.9% from the field in 19.8 MPG. He’s also helped on the boards (5.5 RPG). An above-average 3-point shooter, Jerebko shouldn’t have too much trouble finding another contender to sign him as their backup stretch four next summer. It could be Golden State if he’s willing to settle for the veteran’s minimum again.

Tobias Harris, Clippers, 26, PF (Up) – Signed to a four-year, $64MM deal in 2015
When news leaked over the summer that Harris turned down an $80MM extension offer from the Clippers, many people wondered what Harris was thinking. He was willing to bet on himself that he could do even better as an unrestricted free agent and thus far, the odds have increased in his favor. Harris is posting career highs in several major categories, including scoring (21.0 PPG), shooting (50.8%) and rebounding (8.5 RPG) for one of the league’s surprise teams. When the superstars come off the board, Harris will be next in line for a big payday.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Lakers, 25, SG (Down) – Signed to a one-year, $12MM deal in 2018
The previous Pistons regime declined to give Caldwell-Pope a multi-year extension. He wound up signing a pair of generous one-year contracts with the Lakers but he’s been reduced to backup duty. Most of the shots he’s taken have come from beyond the arc and he’s not particularly good at it (33% this season, 34.4% for his career). Caldwell-Pope doesn’t appear to have a future with the Lakers beyond this season and will have to take a pay cut to find work elsewhere.

Dragan Bender, Suns, 21, PF (Down) — Signed to a three-year, $13.4MM deal in 2016
When the Suns drafted Bender No. 4 overall in 2016, then traded with Sacramento for No. 8 selection Marquese Chriss, they seemingly resolved their power forward spot for years to come. Instead, they wound up with two of the biggest busts in that draft. Chriss was traded away to Houston during training camp while Bender is barely seeing the court in Phoenix. He’s appeared in eight games while averaging just 5.5 MPG. Bender needs a change of scenery but he’ll have to settle for a modest deal next year until he proves he’s a genuine NBA player.

Willie Cauley-Stein, Kings, 25, PF (Up)– Signed to a four-year, $15.35MM deal in 2015
The Kings have a lot of young bigs but Cauley-Stein has been a fixture in the lineup. He’s posting career highs at 14.3 PPG and 8.2 RPG while generally playing the same amount of minutes as last season. Cauley-Stein came into the league with a reputation of being a quality defender and he’s posted positive Defensive Box Plus/Minus ratings each season, according to Basketball-Reference. He’ll be a restricted free agent but might be one of the few who gets a substantial offer sheet, considering Sacramento will like choose to make Marvin Bagley III their main man in the middle.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

How Bayless’ Inclusion In Butler Deal Impacts Sixers’ Trade Options

The majority of this week’s analysis on the trade package the Sixers sent the Timberwolves in the Jimmy Butler trade has focused on Dario Saric and Robert Covington, and rightly so. Those are the two players expected to contribute to the Wolves right away and to become potential long-term building blocks for the franchise.

However, a third player, Jerryd Bayless, was also sent to Minnesota in the deal, and the impact his inclusion in the deal will have on the Sixers shouldn’t be overlooked.

As we detailed in our financial breakdown of the Butler trade, the deal couldn’t have been completed without the inclusion of Bayless. Saric’s and Covington’s salaries weren’t enough to match Butler’s $20MM+ cap hit on their own, and salary-matching became even trickier once Justin Patton was attached to Butler. In order to make the trade work financially, the 76ers had to include Bayless and his $8.58MM cap charge.

The loss of Bayless is hardly a debilitating one for the Sixers from an on-court perspective. The veteran guard has only played in 42 games over the last three seasons, with a knee injury currently keeping him on the shelf. Even when healthy, Bayless was unlikely to play much of a role for a 76ers team that already had three point guards in its rotation, in Ben Simmons, T.J. McConnell, and Markelle Fultz. If including him in the Butler deal was the final piece to acquire an All-NBA player, it was, of course, a no-brainer for Philadelphia.

Still, Bayless’ lack of a rotation role, his expiring contract, and his mid-level salary made him an ideal trade chip for a Sixers team that still needs to add shooting depth. Because he wasn’t part of Philadelphia’s rotation, the team could afford to give him up, and because he had no guaranteed money on his deal beyond this season, he would appeal to potential trade partners who didn’t want to compromise their future flexibility.

For instance, the Sixers reportedly remain interested in Cavaliers sharpshooter Kyle Korver. Without Bayless, who was a part of the Korver trade discussions between the two teams in July, the path to acquiring Korver and his $7.56MM salary becomes trickier. In order to meet the league’s salary-matching rules, the Sixers would have to send out at least $4.26MM+.

The 76ers have seven players earning more than that amount. Of those seven, Butler, Simmons, Joel Embiid, and J.J. Redick aren’t going anywhere; dealing Mike Muscala or Wilson Chandler wouldn’t improve the team’s depth, since the team is already relying on those players to be key rotation pieces; and Fultz’s stock hasn’t fallen so far that Philadelphia would move him for Korver.

That means in order to match Korver’s salary, the Sixers would have to package at least a couple lesser-paid players. The expiring contracts for Patton ($2.67MM) and Furkan Korkmaz ($1.74MM) would work, and would probably be the most likely package – along with a draft pick or two – if Philadelphia makes a play for Korver or another shooter in his salary range, such as Jeremy Lamb or Wayne Ellington.

The Sixers’ salary-matching options would become more complicated if they wanted to go after a player with a higher salary though. For instance, Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer suggested in a podcast that Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is one player on the team’s radar, as Bryan Kalbrosky of HoopsHype relays. Caldwell-Pope has a $12MM cap hit, which would be virtually impossible for the Sixers to match without using a rotation player like Chandler or a prospect like Fultz, now that Bayless is no longer on their books.

There are plenty of ways the Sixers could get creative on the trade market, and it’s worth noting that the team may not even need to make any deals — after all, last season’s impact in-season additions, Ersan Ilyasova and Marco Belinelli, were both signed on the buyout market.

Still, the Sixers can’t count on striking gold with players like Ilyasova and Belinelli again, and not having Bayless on the roster will limit their flexibility to some extent. Sending Bayless to the Timberwolves was necessary to land Butler, and the Sixers would do it over again every day of the week, but it will be interesting to see whether a player who was an afterthought in that deal will hamstring the franchise’s trade options later in the season.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Salary information from Basketball Insiders was used in the creation of this post.

L.A. Notes: Stephenson, Walton, SGA, KCP

The offseason addition of Lance Stephenson is already paying off for the Lakers, who saw Stephenson put forth an impressive performance in Wednesday’s road victory against the Suns. He scored 23 points, dished out eight assists and grabbed eight boards in 25 minutes, shooting 10-14 from the floor.

“With [Rondo] being out, he’s our backup point guard pretty much right now, and he controlled the game,” LeBron James said of Stephenson, as relayed by Joey Ramirez of Lakers.com. “He had great pace and found guys.”

Stephenson, a former nemesis of James, did his work off the bench on Wednesday. Since leaving the Pacers in 2014, he’s grown accustomed to coming off the bench and providing depth for teams in the backcourt.

“He still goes one-on-one, and he’s really good at it [so] we’re not gonna take that away from him,” head coach Luke Walton said. “But he’s doing more of how we want him to do it. He’s sharing the ball.

“He danced a bit late in the game, but for the most part he’s playing within the style we want to play. And he’s competing on defense, and that’s why he’s winning so much favor with the [coaching] staff right now.”

There’s more from Los Angeles tonight:

  • Lakers coach Luke Walton was fined $15K (full release) for publicly criticizing the officiating after the team’s overtime loss against San Antonio on Monday.  Walton was upset with what he perceived as excessive flopping from the Spurs, coupled with the various missed calls for his own players.
  • Clippers guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has already become a rotation player that the team can depend on, writes Andrew Greif of the Los Angeles Times“He’s just a really good player,” coach Doc Rivers said of the rookie.
  • Just three games into his new contract, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope has moved from a starting role with the Lakers to coming off the bench, Kyle Goon of the Orange County Register writes. The impressive play from Josh Hart earned him a starting spot on Wednesday, forcing Caldwell-Pope to the second unit.

L.A. Notes: Leonard, James, Rondo, Rivers

The Spurs continue to seek a high price from the Lakers in exchange for Kawhi Leonard, salary cap expert Larry Coon said in an appearance today on Spectrum SportsNet (Twitter link). Sources tell Coon that San Antonio is asking for Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart, Kyle Kuzma, two first-rounders and the right to swap two other draft choices. “They’re just saying give us everything,” Coon said.

Coon also outlined the Lakers’ remaining cap situation, noting that the signing of Lance Stephenson with the mid-level exception will probably be the final move in free agency after all other cap space is used up.

There’s more news from Los Angeles:

  • LeBron James‘ decision to join the Lakers may give Leonard more incentive to become a Clipper, Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports suggested in an appearance on Colin Cowherd’s radio show (Twitter link).
  • The Lakers are turning their attention to next summer for their next big free agent move, according to Sean Deveney of The Sporting News. The organization’s emphasis on one-year deals helps explain the odd collection of moves that have come down since James committed to L.A. Sunday night. The Lakers re-signed Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, then reached agreements with Stephenson, JaVale McGee and Rajon Rondo, all on one-year contracts. The team expects to have about $76MM in guaranteed money next summer, possibly less if Luol Deng is waived and stretched, leaving enough to offer another max deal.
  • Rondo, whom Deveney states has wanted to join the Lakers since 2015, could take the starting point guard job away from Lonzo Ball, writes Sam Amick of USA Today. A source tells Amick that the L.A. front office has promised Rondo the chance to compete for a starting spot.
  • During an impromptu interview with TMZ, Doc Rivers explained the decision to trade his son, Austin Rivers, to the Wizards. The Clippers coach called it “the right thing for all of us” and predicts that Austin will excel in Washington.

Lakers Re-Sign Kentavious Caldwell-Pope

JULY 6: The Lakers have officially re-signed Caldwell-Pope, the team announced today in a press release.

JULY 1: The Lakers will re-sign Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Chris Haynes of ESPN reports. The news comes less than an hour after it was revealed that they’ll be inking LeBron James as well. James and Caldwell-Pope are both represented by agent Rich Paul and the Klutch Sports Group.

In a subsequent tweet, Haynes added that the deal for Caldwell-Pope will be a one-year pact worth $12MM. That’s $6MM less than the one-year contract the two parties agreed on last summer.

Caldwell-Pope, 25, joined the Lakers last summer after spending the first four years of his NBA career in Detroit. The 6’5″ shooting guard enjoyed his best season as a shooter last year, setting new career highs in FG% (.426) and 3PT% (.383). He averaged 13.4 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 2.2 APG, and 1.4 SPG in 74 games (all starts).

Caldwell-Pope, who complements his ability to make three-pointers with strong perimeter defense on the other end of the floor, will return to Los Angeles after apparently seeing interest from a number of teams, including the Grizzlies and Clippers.

Adding Caldwell-Pope’s new $12MM deal to James’ max contract significantly reduces the Lakers’ available cap room. With Luol Deng‘s $18MM salary and Julius Randle‘s $12MM+ cap hold on their books, the Lakers are essentially capped out after committing $47MM+ to LeBron and KCP. However, the team could re-open space by renouncing Randle and trading or stretching Deng.

The Lakers could get up to about $23.6MM in cap room by renouncing Randle and stretching Deng. Renouncing Randle and trading Deng for no incoming salary would result in $30MM+ in space. Keeping Randle’s cap hold on the books and stretching Deng would open up about $12MM.

Luke Adams contributed to this post. Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Free Agent Notes: Stephenson, Tolliver, McGee, O’Quinn

Plenty of teams will have interest in Lance Stephenson once the higher-profile free agents are signed, tweets Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News. The Pacers remain open to bringing back the 27-year-old swingman after declining their team option on him this week. Wolfson lists the Timberwolves, Knicks, Sixers and Lakers as other interested teams, but says there are more.

Stephenson appeared in all 82 games for Indiana this season, averaging 9.2 points per night. He would have made $4.36MM in 2018/19 if the Pacers had picked up his option.

There’s more free agent news to pass along:

  • Timberwolves coach/executive Tom Thibodeau has talked to Pistons free agent Anthony Tolliver, according to Wolfson (Twitter link). Tolliver shot 44% from 3-point range this season, and Minnesota sees him as a possible replacement for Jamal Crawford. The Wolves also like his locker room presence, which could be valuable if Cole Aldrich doesn’t come back.
  • JaVale McGee has said he wants to return to the Warriors, but he is also getting interest from the Lakers, Pelicans and Thunder, tweets TNT’s David Aldridge. Because of luxury tax concerns, Golden State is unlikely to offer more than a veteran’s minimum contract, while the other teams have more financial flexibility. McGee averaged 4.8 PPG and 2.6RPG this season, but his numbers rose after he became a starter after the All-Star break. This is the third straight summer of free agency for McGee, who has spent the past two seasons with the Warriors.
  • The new contract for Luke Kornet is a sign that Kyle O’Quinn won’t return to the Knicks, according to Marc Berman of The New York Post. He adds that the Sixers are showing “heavy interest” in O’Quinn, who spent the past three years in New York as a backup center.
  • The Knicks are hoping to re-sign Isaiah Hicks, who was on a two-way contract this season, tweets ESPN’s Ian Begley. New York gave him a qualifying offer last week, making him a free agent and giving the team the right to match any offer. Hicks appeared in 18 NBA games, averaging 4.4 points per night.
  • A scheduled meeting between Lakers guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and the Clippers has been moved from today to Monday, tweets Chris Haynes of ESPN.