The Los Angeles Lakers filled their need at shooting guard this offseason by signing Kentavious Caldwell-Pope to a one-year, $18 million contract.
Caldwell-Pope fills a big need of the Lakers as he is by far the best perimeter defender on the team, which will help out rookie point guard Lonzo Ball on a nightly basis as he can lock up the opposing team’s best guard.
Unfortunately though, the Lakers will be without Caldwell-Pope for the first two games of the season as he will be serving a suspension for a previous DUI, so Lakers head coach Luke Walton will need to find a replacement in his starting lineup.
After practice on Monday, Walton named five possible replacements, via Bill Oram of the Southern California News Group:
Walton clarified Deng is one of 5 possibilities to start in place of KCP. Others: Hart, Clarkson, Brewer, Kuzma.
— Bill Oram (@billoram) October 16, 2017
Luol Deng makes the most sense if Walton doesn’t want to tinker with all of his rotations, as he may want to keep Jordan Clarkson and Kyle Kuzma coming off the bench to bring instant offense.
Rookie Josh Hart is also a possibility but he suffered a left Achilles strain during practice Monday, so his status for the opener is now in jeopardy.
If Deng, Kuzma or Corey Brewer were to start then that would shift Brandon Ingram over to shooting guard, giving the Lakers a very tall starting lineup. That could help on the defensive end of the floor especially, as they can all guard bigger defenders, giving them an ability to switch on all screens.
Regardless of who starts, both Clarkson and Kuzma will likely get the bulk of Caldwell-Pope’s minutes in his absence. With Caldwell-Pope only being out two games though, Walton has other pressing issues to deal with in regards to what his rotations will be.