Kentavious Caldwell-Pope

Lakers Rumors: Ball, Workouts, Caldwell-Pope

Lakers guard Lonzo Ball is focused on gaining strength and stamina to become less injury-prone next season, teammate Kyle Kuzma told ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk and other media members on Tuesday. Ball played in only 52 games during his rookie campaign due to a variety of ailments.

“He has been in there pretty much every day I have been in here around this time,” Kuzma said of Ball’s weight training. “You can tell he is taking the weight room a lot more serious and that is going to help him by allowing him to recover faster and hopefully next year be on the court more because of that weight room.”

In other news regarding the Lakers:

  • West Virginia guard Jevon Carter is among six prospects the Lakers will work out on Wednesday, the team announced on its website. Carter is ranked No. 44 on ESPN Jonathan Givony’s Top 100 list. Kostas Antetokounmpo (Dayton), Elijah Bryant (BYU), Trey Kell (San Diego State) and Omari Spellman (Villanova) will join Carter. Gary Trent Jr. of Duke will also be there, as previously reported.
  • The Spurs are a logical candidate to pursue free agent shooting guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Frank Urbina of Hoops Hype speculates. San Antonio could lose Danny Green if he opts out of his contract. Caldwell-Pope could replace him and the Spurs have their mid-level exception to offer him, Urbina continues. The Clippers and Grizzlies may also be in the market for a starting shooting guard, though it’s possible KCP could get another one-year offer from the Lakers if they don’t land two top-level free agents, Urbina adds.
  • Kuzma was named to the league’s All-Rookie First Team while Ball earned Second Team honors. You can see the All-Rookie teams here.

Free Agent Stock Watch 2018: Los Angeles Lakers

For better or worse, the Lakers have known exactly what they wanted and how to get it for several seasons now. Now that the 2018 free agency period is upon us, we’ll see if the salary cap posturing was worth it. In an effort to make themselves an appealing destination for LeBron James and/or Paul George the club has neglected and even outright punted up-and-coming talent.

Given what’s at stake, any of Los Angeles’ own free agents will have to wait for dominoes to start falling before they can find out what kind of role – if any – is still available to them with the Lakers. Because of its history and location and all the inherent marketing opportunities that come along with being a celebrity in Hollywood, this organization is capable of things that nobody else is. Love it or hate, we’re going to see that on full display this summer.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG, 25 (Down) – Signed to a one-year, $18MM deal in 2017
In today’s NBA there will always be a market for 3-and-D perimeter threats so whether it comes in Los Angeles or elsewhere, Caldwell-Pope should have no problem finding a suitor. That fact that he’s still only 25 years old only makes him all that more appealing. The problem, however – and the one thing standing between him and the max deal he allegedly sought last offseason – is that despite the guard’s legitimately impressive .423 three-point percentage after the All-Star Break, he’s never been a reliable go-to scoring option on a competitive team and appears to have a finite ceiling. Is the two-guard an untapped star or an elite niche player? I’d wager on the latter and caution any team desperate enough to pay him like the former.

Channing Frye, C, 35 (Down) – Signed to a four-year, $32MM deal in 2014
Frye saw a reduced role in 2017/18 after serving as a valuable depth piece for the championship-contender Cavaliers the past two seasons. Still, despite seeing his usage trend downward, the veteran is as sneaky dangerous as ever. It’s hard to imagine Frye earning much more than the veteran’s minimum in his 13th season but it’s easy to picture him knocking down critical threes for a contender come the 2019 postseason.

Andre Ingram, SG, 32 (Down) – Signed to a one-year deal in 2018
Ingram had a memorable cup of coffee this season but isn’t likely to parlay the impressive debut into a full-time gig anytime soon. That said, the 32-year-old could find himself on the 10-day radar for depth-hungry teams late next season. That’s an improvement over a seemingly symbolic late-season addition in 2018.

Brook Lopez, C, 30 (Down) – Signed to a three-year, $63MM deal in 2015
Lopez has done an admirable job developing a three-point shot late in his career and that will likely help him prolong it, but don’t expect him to land another featured role like he had with the Nets anytime soon either. Lopez is on the wrong side of 30 and has never been a particularly feared rim protector. Expect the veteran to contribute meaningful minutes to a contender at a drastically reduced rate; playoff-bound teams don’t have the cap space and the rest shouldn’t even be looking.

Julius Randle, C, 23 (Up) – Signed to a four-year, $14MM deal in 2014
Watching the Lakers mishandle Randle over the course of the past two seasons would have been outright inexcusable if they didn’t have a legitimate chance of landing a premier free agent or two this summer. They do, so we’ll let them off the hook, but if any other franchise were to drag an absolute workhorse through the mud for two seasons just because they wanted to keep their options open for free agency, we’d be laughing at them. Randle, a restricted free agent, is going to get paid this offseason and he should, my only hope – for the sake of the young man’s dignity – is that it comes from an organization that hasn’t made it abundantly clear that he’s a third or fourth priority. Fun prediction: Randle makes an All-Star team before any of Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram or Kyle Kuzma.

Isaiah Thomas, PG, 29 (Down) – Signed to a four-year, $27MM deal in 2014
For a fleeting moment in time, the stars aligned such that Thomas – an undersized, volume-shooting journeyman – was an honest-to-goodness MVP candidate. That, however, doesn’t mean that Thomas is or ever was a max player. While the drop in Thomas’ value here in 2018 can be lazily chalked up to his hip injury and the fact that he’ll be 30 years old by the end of next season, it wouldn’t have even felt right this time last season for a team to commit north of $25MM to a ball-dominant guard with a Napolean Complex. I can see Thomas as a world-class reserve combo guard if his hip holds up into the second-half of his career, I’m just not confident that he would share my vision.

Travis Wear, SF, 27 (Down) – Signed to a one-year deal in 2018
The Lakers brought Wear aboard as a last-season depth add and while he may not break camp with the team next season, he may have shown enough during his brief stint with the franchise to warrant a call-up earlier in the season next year. The Lakers may not have much of an interest in investing substantially in the forward but he’s a familiar face that could end up back in purple and gold eventually.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Grizzlies Notes: Evans, Chalmers, Bickerstaff

Throughout the entire second-half of the 2017/18 NBA season (i.e. after the trade deadline), the Grizzlies have maintained that they plan to re-sign guard Tyreke Evans to a new deal this summer, most likely with an offer for the non-taxpayer mid-level exception worth an estimated $8.6MM for the 2018/19 season.

This is because the Grizzlies only possess Non-Bird Rights on Evans, meaning the most they could pay him next season without the MLE or cap room is $3.948MM, 120% more than the $3.29MM he made this season.

And while the optimism in Memphis has not yet publicly waned, Michael Wallace of Grizzlies.com writes that general manager Chris Wallace didn’t sound as convincing after the season that a successful pitch would be made to Evans in free agency as he did when he said the same thing after Evans was retained at the trade deadline.

As Wallace points out, Evans is unfortunately probably just as likely to sign a deal similar to Lou Williams – which would fit under the MLE – as he is to signing a one-year, high-paying contract, a la Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, for a team looking to clear cap space for the summer of 2019.

There’s more out of Memphis:

  • In another article for Grizzlies.com, Wallace focuses on veteran Mario Chalmers‘ pending free agency, writing that the soon to be 32-year-old point guard is likely only to return to the Grizzlies, if at all, as an end-of-free-agency option, likely on another minimum-salary contract.
  • New head coach J.B. Bickerstaff has not yet made any decisions on who he plans to hire onto his coaching staff, tweets Ronald Tillery of The Commercial Appeal. Bickerstaff was just yesterday officially named head coach.
  • In a full article for The Commercial Appeal, Tillery reports that franchise cornerstone Marc Gasol is pleased with the hiring of Bickerstaff. “J.B. deserves a real shot at this without any restrictions,” Gasol said. “He has earned it… He’s always so positive. He always helps me understand, ‘Do your job. Control what you can control and the rest will take care of itself.’ Our communication has been really good. We’re both going in the same direction. And that’s important.” Both Gasol and Mike Conley were known supporters of Bickerstaff, so Gasol’s contentment should come as no surprise.

Lakers Rumors: Free Agency, KCP, Frye, Lopez, Walton

The Lakers’ long-awaited 2018 offseason is now underway, but after months of speculation about which top free agents the team will land this summer, president Magic Johnson and GM Rob Pelinka are working to keep expectations in check.

Speaking today to reporters, including Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN.com, the Lakers’ top execs made it clear that they plan to be flexible when it comes to free agency. In the view of Johnson and Pelinka, the team could just as easily end up making a splash in 2019 as in 2018.

As Youngmisuk details, Johnson said the Lakers won’t “give away money” this offseason just to say they signed someone, which is perhaps a veiled reference to the team’s infamous summer of ’16. Pelinka, meanwhile, stressed that the summer of ’18 “is not a litmus test” for the front office’s ultimate success — if L.A. comes away empty-handed this July but maintains flexibility for 2019, management wouldn’t view that as a disaster.

Here’s much more on the Lakers:

  • Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, an unrestricted free agent this summer, says he’s looking for a long-term deal in order to establish some stability for his family, writes Bill Oram of The Orange County Register. Within the same piece, UFA-to-be Channing Frye says he’d be interested in re-signing with the Lakers. “I want to allow them to make the right decisions with bigger-name guys,” Frye said. “I’€™m a pretty dang good backup, emergency, break-the-glass type guy.”
  • Brook Lopez, yet another UFA, isn’t sure whether he’ll be back with the Lakers, but endorsed the franchise for other free agents, per Rodrigo Azurmendi of Lakers.com. “It’€™s a great place to be going forward, not just for myself, but for a free agent looking to sign somewhere,” Lopez said.
  • As Lonzo Ball prepares for a summer that Johnson and Pelinka told him would be the biggest of his life (link via ESPN.com), insiders around the NBA are marveling at the Lakers’ 2017 draft class, which looks like a potential all-timer, writes Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report. In addition to Ball, the Lakers also nabbed Kyle Kuzma and Josh Hart – who both look like steals – late in the first round.
  • Although there was some speculation during the season about his job security, Luke Walton appears very safe as the Lakers’ head coach. Johnson said today that he and Pelinka “look forward to working with Luke for many years to come” (Twitter link via Tania Ganguli of The Los Angeles Times).
  • For his part, Walton would love to keep working with restricted free agent Julius Randle (Twitter link via Oram). “I think it’€™s obvious that, yes, I would love to have Julius back next year,” Walton said today after raving about the big man’s play. “There’€™s other factors … but from a coaching standpoint I would love to have Julius back.”

L.A. Notes: LeBron, Lakers, Gallinari, Thornwell

James’ recent purchase of a house in the Los Angeles area won’t affect his decision, Heisler claims, and neither will the chance to play with a young core made up of Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, Julius Randle and Lonzo Ball. Unless the Lakers can convince James that his presence would make them an instant contender, they’ll be a long shot to bring him to L.A.
There’s more NBA news out of Los Angeles:
  • With the playoffs slipping out of reach, the Lakers will spend the rest of this season deciding which free agents they want to keep, states Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report. With only five players under contract for 2018/19, Brook Lopez, Isaiah Thomas and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope will be among those auditioning for jobs, as will Channing Frye if he returns after an appendectomy.
  • Clippers forward Danilo Gallinari will have his right hand examined next week to determine if he needs surgery, tweets Tomer Azarly of Clutch Points. Gallinari added that swelling and discoloration in the hand have subsided since he suffered a non-displaced fracture late last month. Gallinari is averaging 15.9 points per night, but has been limited to 19 games by a variety of injuries.
  • Rookie Clippers guard Sindarius Thornwell made his first start in nearly three months Friday and responded with a career-high 14 points in a win over the Cavaliers, notes Broderick Turner of The Los Angeles Times. Thornwell’s playing time had slipped as the team tried out two-way guards C.J. Williams and Tyrone Wallace, but he was ready when coach Doc Rivers called on him to match up with James. “I guess it’s just Doc’s way of seeing if I’m ready to play,” Thornwell said. “He just wants to see if I’m focused and locked in. But my starts are always on somebody tough.”

Pacific Notes: Bradley, Evans, Caldwell-Pope, Payton

Clippers guards Avery Bradley and Jawun Evans are both suffering from ailments that could result in offseason surgery, writes Elliott Teaford of The Orange County Register. For the first time today, coach Doc Rivers brought up surgery as an option for Bradley, who has a sports hernia. The organization is hoping the 27-year-old, who was acquired from the Pistons late last month, can return in a week or two, but they’re being careful with him. He has played six games for L.A. since the trade and hasn’t been on the court since February 14.

“He’s one of the, if not the best, he’s one of the top five defensive guys on the ball in the league,” Rivers said. “And that’s all movement there [in a players’ core muscles]. So it’s tough blow.”

Evans, who has been diagnosed with a “sore lower abdominal ailment,” hasn’t been able to play since January 20.

There’s more news from the Pacific Division:

  • Lakers guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope has played much better since resolving his legal issues last month, notes Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN. With free agency looming, Caldwell-Pope has been showing off his scoring ability, hitting eight 3-pointers in a 34-point performance Saturday night. “It was kind of hard with that situation I had, but now that’s behind me,” he said. “I can focus on just one thing — that’s basketball. It’s been good just to be able to get my work when I need it and just be ready for games.”
  • The Suns have the rest of the season to determine if they want to team Elfrid Payton with Devin Booker as their backcourt of the future, relays Scott Bordow of The Arizona Republic. Payton has solidified the point guard position since coming to Phoenix in a trade at the deadline, but the front office has to decide if Payton’s abilities are the best complement for Booker and if he is worth the estimated $10MM annually it will cost to keep him when he hits restricted free agency this summer. The Suns will also consider whether they want to draft a new point guard or keep Payton and use their pick on a center.
  • Shooting guard Danuel House has reached the 45-day NBA limit under his two-way contract, Bordow tweets. House has returned to the Suns‘ Northern Arizona affiliate and can’t come back to Phoenix until the G League season is over unless his contract is converted to a regular NBA deal.

Knicks Eyeing Caldwell-Pope As Free Agent Target

As the Knicks consider their options at the trade deadline and look ahead to the summer, the front office is prioritizing the addition of an athletic wing, sources tell Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News. According to Bondy, one player on the team’s radar is Lakers swingman Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.

The idea of trading for Caldwell-Pope and his $17.75MM cap hit probably isn’t practical for the Knicks, since KCP will be an unrestricted free agent in a few months. The club is more likely to target the fifth-year wing in free agency this offseason, Bondy writes.

As Bondy points out, the recent jail sentence Caldwell-Pope served for violating probation will be a red flag for the Knicks and other potential suitors. However, if New York’s front office does its homework on KCP and is confident that off-court issues won’t be an ongoing problem, the club could have the opportunity to land the UFA-to-be at a discounted rate, given that legal history.

Caldwell-Pope, who will turn 25 next month, failed to land a lucrative long-term deal during the 2017 offseason and settled for a one-year contract with the Lakers. He has played fairly well in L.A., posting career-best rates in a few categories, including 3PT% (.357). However, given the lack of teams projected to have real cap room in 2018, it remains to be seen whether KCP will have better luck securing a big payday this time around.

While the Knicks could create a chunk of cap space this summer, player options for Enes Kanter, Ron Baker, and Kyle O’Quinn complicate that equation — if all three players pick up their options, New York’s cap room would all but disappear, leaving the club with the mid-level exception. As for the Lakers, they’ll have plenty of flexibility to re-sign Caldwell-Pope if they so choose, but they figure to focus on higher-profile targets when free agency opens in July.

Pacific Notes: Walton, Caldwell-Pope, West, Williams

The Lakers mishandled the latest controversy involving LaVar Ball, writes Tim Bontemps of The Washington Post. The outspoken father of rookie Lonzo Ball said over the weekend that coach Luke Walton has lost control of the team and that players no longer enjoy playing for him.

The comments drew a harsh reaction from other coaches such as the Mavericks’ Rick Carlisle, the Pistons’ Stan Van Gundy and the Warriors’ Steve Kerr, but Bontemps says Lakers management failed to speak out swiftly to defend Walton.

GM Rob Pelinka turned down two requests to talk to reporters at Sunday’s game, then team president Magic Johnson did the same at Monday’s practice. Bontemps notes this would have been a perfect opportunity to support Walton and send a message to LaVar Ball, but the team leaders remained silent.

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • Lakers guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is ready to move on after completing a 25-day jail sentence, relays Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN. Caldwell-Pope was released for games and practices, but wasn’t permitted to leave California for road trips. “Paid my debts and all,” he said. “… Everything is done. Put that behind me. Moving forward, finish my season. Just happy to be home. Just a minor setback for me, [but there’s a] lot of things I gotta change. Lotta things I gotta improve on. Had a lot of time to think about it.”
  • Warriors forward David West heard a lot of second guessing when he turned down a $12.6MM option with the Pacers in 2015, but he tells Chris Hayes of ESPN he doesn’t think he would still be playing without that decision. He signed a $1.4MM contract with the Spurs that year and has taken similar deals with the Warriors the past two seasons. “I would have retired, man,” West said. “That would have been it, because I wanted to compete for a championship. I needed to experience that. So, if I played out my contract there, that would have been it. I was walking away. I wanted to feel like I was playing for something.”
  • After hitting a game-winning shot Monday, Clippers guard C.J. Williams has another important occasion coming up, notes Broderick Turner of The Los Angeles Times. Playing on a two-way contract, Williams has used 40 of his 45 allowable days in the NBA. Injuries have forced Williams into the rotation, as he has started 12 games and is averaging nearly 20 minutes per night. To keep him, the Clippers will have to sign him to a regular contract or a 10-day deal by the end of the week. “We’re going to start a ‘GoFundMe Fund’ for C.J.,” coach Doc Rivers joked after the game. “We need some donations.”

Lakers Notes: Ball, Walton, Randle, Caldwell-Pope

Lonzo Ball‘s father is creating headlines in Los Angeles this morning with comments about Lakers coach Luke Walton, relays Jeff Goodman of ESPN. Lavar Ball claims Walton has lost control of the team and that Lakers players would like to see him replaced.

“You can see they’re not playing for Luke no more,” he said. “Luke doesn’t have control of the team no more. They don’t want to play for him. … Nobody wants to play for him. I can see it. No high-fives when they come out of the game. People don’t know why they’re in the game. He’s too young. He’s too young. … He ain’t connecting with them anymore. You can look at every player, he’s not connecting with not one player.”

LaVar Ball also expressed confidence that LeBron James is heading to the Lakers next season, saying he wants to win a title in Los Angeles so he can surpass Michael Jordan.

There’s more news out of L.A.:

  • Ball’s comments came shortly after a report from Ohm Youngmisuk on ESPN Now that Walton believes he still has the support of Lakers management. Majority owner Jeanie Buss recently offered her backing on social media with an “InLukeWeTrust” hashtag, and Walton is confident that the organization is standing behind him during a nine-game losing streak. “As I preach to my players that control what you can control in life, that has to be my philosophy as a coach as well,” Walton said. “… [Team president Magic Johnson and GM Rob Pelinka] have been great, they have been supportive. They obviously understand where we are at as a team and what we are trying to do and what the big picture is… [Buss] has been incredible. I’ve talked with her a lot during the season. She has been around this game for a long time. She knows when to be supportive and she has been really great to work with.”
  • The chance to take a shot at James in free agency can’t come soon enough for the Lakers, writes Frank Isola of The New York Daily News, who says this season is unraveling both on the court and behind the scenes. Players expressed frustration with the play of Julius Randle during a recent team meeting, but he was inserted into the starting lineup for the following game, which Isola suggests was mandated by the front office in an effort to increase his trade value. He adds that such a move damages the coach’s standing in the locker room.
  • Kentavious Caldwell-Pope will be released from a detention center Monday and will have his travel restrictions lifted, according to Chris Haynes of ESPN. Caldwell-Pope has been barred from leaving California while serving a 25-day sentence for a probation violation and has missed four of the team’s last five road games.

Lakers Notes: Ball, Walton, Kuzma, Caldwell-Pope

Lonzo Ball‘s shoulder sprain will keep him out at least another week and the team isn’t setting a timetable for his return, according to The Orange County Register. Ball played through the injury after getting hurt in Saturday’s game, but the pain was much worse the next morning. The Lakers plan to re-evaluate him prior to their New Year’s Eve game in Houston, and with coach Luke Walton‘s policy that players practice before they play, Ball’s return could be pushed into the new year.

“There’s no target [date] at least from my standpoint,” Walton said. “The only thing that matters with him is getting him healthy. There’s no reason to try to target a date and get him back. Obviously we want him back as soon as possible but big picture and what he means to us. We need him to be healthy so once he’s back he stays back.”

There’s more this morning out of Los Angeles:

  • Walton understands Andrew Bogut‘s recent comments that some players are distracted by off-court rumors, the Register relays in the same article. It’s well known throughout the league that the Lakers would like to maximize their cap room for next summer, which means roster moves could be upcoming that involve Luol Deng, Jordan Clarkson, Julius Randle and others. “I think that every team deals with it,” Walton said, “the outside influence. Whether it is one-year deals, or trade rumors in the media, whatever is going on in the outside world that as a player you read or hear about or agents tell you about, is a very real distraction.”
  • Kyle Kuzma‘s 31-point performance Monday was the latest reminder to general managers that they made a huge mistake by letting him slide to the 27th pick, writes Mitch Lawrence of Forbes. Kuzma was viewed as “a non-range shooter and an average athlete” coming out of Utah, an unidentified Western Conference GM tells Lawrence. But the Lakers have been watching Kuzma closely since he was a sophomore, tipped off by former assistant coach and scout Bill Bertka.
  • The Lakers are being supportive of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope as he resolves a legal issue, although it has resulted in some locker room teasing, notes Bill Oram of The Orange County Register. Caldwell-Pope is serving a 25-day sentence in a Seal Beach detention center for violating a probation agreement. He is released for games, but is not allowed to leave California until all his time is served. “I think we have that mutual bond within the group that we can all talk (trash) to each other and not take it personally,” Bogut said. “KCP is no different.”