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Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is the wing that the Lakers desperately needed in free agency and the two sides reportedly agreed to a one-year deal worth $18 million.. Caldwell-Pope is a solid two-way player who can defend and score on a consistent basis.
Last season with the Detroit Pistons, he averaged 13.8 points, 3.3 rebounds and 2.5 assists while shooting 39.9 percent from the field and 35 percent from three.
On Zach Lowe’s Lowe Post podcast, head coach Luke Walton hinted at the possibility of having Caldwell-Pope start for the Lakers from day one:
“He really is (a great fit). It’s tough to just say ‘Here’s our starting five’ but he’s a really good fit for that spot. I’m a big fan on competition and earning your spot. It’s why it took Brandon (Ingram) so long to get in the starting line-up last year because I want him with the pride and the feeling of like ‘I earned this starting spot…and I’m never giving them spot up because I took this.’ It’s different because he was a rookie. KCP’s kind of been in this league and proven himself. I’d say most likely, yeah that’s what it looks like, Brandon on one wing, him on the other.”
The prospect of having KCP and Ingram playing in the wing positions is exciting and fun. Both players have the potential to be a great defensive pairing.
When talking about the starting line-up, Walton talked about how much different the team will look next season. The additions of Caldwell-Pope and Brook Lopez provide spacing that the team often did not have last season.
“It’s exciting because the spacing, at least on paper right now, there’s spacing we didn’t have last year which will allowing Julius (Randle) to do what he does best. It’ll allow us to get a little more creative in our offense as far as using Brook (Lopez) in some three-point shooting, stretch five plays that really allow wings and other players to get to the basket because of the way he can shoot threes now. He was in the gym the other day. I was blown away. I knew he could shoot threes and he hit a bunch last year, 130-something, but when you sit there and watch him shoot threes, they’re beautiful. They come off his hand, they’re soft, he’s going seven or eight out of ten in every spot. Now I just need to make sure I don’t fall in love with that because he’s a big boy and he’s got game on the block.”
The additions to the Lakers’ roster, Lonzo Ball included, the Lakers have a line-up that should be more of a force offensively than one that struggled for much of last season.