Going into the summer of 2017, most assumed that restricted free agent Kentavious Caldwell-Pope would wind up coming to terms on a new contrct with the Detroit Pistons. Instead, Detroit went a different direction, freeing up Caldwell-Pope to take a one-year deal with the Lakers.
With his next contract on the line, Caldwell-Pope turned in a season that was better than the narrative surrounding him would have you believe. After a brutal month of December in which personal issues off the court negatively impacted his play on it, perception of Caldwell-Pope soured.
However, Caldwell-Pope bounced back in a big way when the calendar turned to 2018. After shooting just 29 percent from three in December he pumped his average all the way up to 42 percent for the rest of the season.
If the Lakers believe that these numbers are indicative of Caldwell-Pope’s true abilities then that partially explains their decision to not target shooters in free agency.
Moreover, for the season, Caldwell-Pope was in the 87th percentile on spot-up opportunities, which he figures to get plenty of playing alongside LeBron James this season.
Caldwell-Pope wound up being the only Lakers free agent that remained with the team, signing a one-contract deal worth $12 million. If he can continue to shoot the way that he did during the second half of last season then he will easily be worth that contract and will put himself in excellent position to get a long-term deal in 2019 free agency.
However, before he can start feasting on the open looks generated by James, Caldwell-Pope will have to earn a starting role.
He was the obvious choice to start at shooting guard last season and has to be considered the favorite next seasons as well, but second-year guard Josh Hart will be pushing for the job as well after winning MVP of the Las Vegas Summer League.