Over the past two seasons Kentavious Caldwell-Pope has made substantial improvements to his game. What teams should he consider signing with as he enters restricted free agency this summer?
At age 24, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope represents the kind of player whose value has skyrocketed in within the past decade. He is an excellent backcourt defender that has a decent shooting touch and plays effectively off the ball on offense. If KCP were a more reliable shooter, he would probably be a no-brainer max player. He was around the the league average in 3-point shooting last season, which generally falls between 35-36 percent, but he has fallen below average for most of his career so far. Even so, players like Caldwell-Pope are not easy to find and they are becoming vital to most teams that have serious championship aspirations.
This summer KCP will enter restricted free agency, but according to Vince Ellis of Detroit Free Press the Pistons have consistently indicated throughout the season that no offer for him will be too high to match. Recent reports from Adrian Wojnarowski suggest however, that the Pistons wouldn’t be thrilled about paying him at a max level. Another concern for the Pistons is that the luxury tax threshold dropped, so they would come dangerously close to the tax by matching a big offer.
Based on the contract extensions signed by some of his fellow 2013 draftees over the past year, KCP will probably be looking for a contract in the $90-100 million range over four years. His status as a valuable restricted free agent might minimize the total amount of teams that actually send offer sheets his way. A few teams will likely test Detroit’s resolve and offer KCP a max deal regardless.
Here are the teams KCP should consider most seriously, even though the most likely outcome of his free agency will be a return to Detroit.
5. Dallas Mavericks
The chances that KCP actually lands in Dallas are quite slim. With the cap holds currently on their books, the Mavs have no space to sign a free agent. Over the weekend Mark Stein of ESPN indicated that Dallas will decline Dirk Nowitzki’s team option of $25 million. The reasoning behind this move is that Dirk will presumably re-sign for a lower value to help facilitate free agent signings.
To get into the KCP running, Dallas will have to shed the contract of Wes Matthews. Considering the news that Matthews was involved in trade talks just a few days ago (according to Tim MacMahon of ESPN), perhaps Dallas would be willing to make a cost cutting deal; Wes is still a valuable player despite two down seasons after his return from a catastrophic Achilles tear. All of this maneuvering could be quickly undone if a team decides to throw a monster offer at Nerlens Noel though, which Dallas will almost certainly match.
All cap gymnastics aside, KCP would fit well on this Dallas squad. Coach Rick Carlisle works magic on the basketball court. Since winning the title in 2011, he’s turned some of the wonkiest collections of players into legit teams. He gets the most out of his players and consistently puts them in a position to succeed (Rajon Rondo disagrees). Dallas emphasizes floor spacing and motion on offense, which are the strongest components of Caldwell-Pope’s game on that end. Plugging KCP into that offense would also help open the floor for rookie point guard Dennis Smith Jr.
KCP could alleviate some of Dallas’ weaknesses on defense. With him defending lead ball-handlers and Nerlens Noel barricading the rim, Dallas could have the foundations of a solid defense moving forward. Joining Dallas would be mutually beneficial for KCP and the Mavs, but cap complications may well keep this signing from ever becoming a reality.