The Los Angeles Lakers Las Vegas Summer League team, led by rookie No. 2 overall pick Lonzo Ball, won the championship for the first time in franchise history, leaving people within the organization optimistic about what is to come in the future.
While all that was going on, the Lakers front office was busy filling out the rest of the roster for the 2017-18 season.
Limiting themselves to one-year contracts in order to preserve cap space for the 2018 free agency class, the Lakers struck out of a few free agents that wound up signing long-term deals.
They eventually were able to convince former Detroit Pistons guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope to sign a one-year, $18 million deal though, setting him up to start in the backcourt alongside Ball.
In a recent interview with Tania Ganguli of the L.A. Times, Caldwell-Pope revealed that one of the reasons that he signed with the Lakers was because of the team and Ball’s play during the Summer League:
“I watched the championship game. That was pretty exciting. I saw the highlights of the other games. It just looked fun. I wanted to play with them how they were playing. Zo was throwing the ball in the air, they were getting easy layups, threes, they were just playing hard on the defensive end. That really just excited me and I wanted to just be a part of that.”
It’s hard to blame Caldwell-Pope for wanting to play for the Lakers after watching them in Las Vegas as they were playing a completely different, unselfish brand of basketball led by Ball at point guard.
The addition of Caldwell-Pope, who NBA GM’s recently voted as one of the most underrated signings of the offseason, should help the Lakers improve on the defensive end of the floor as he will be able to aid Ball by guarding the opposing team’s best guard every night.