Los Angeles Lakers, NBA Free Agency

Lakers sign Kentavious Caldwell-Pope to contract

The Los Angeles Lakers have added ex-Pistons’ shooting guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope on a one-year contract worth $18 million.

The Los Angeles Lakers were one of the last few remaining teams that still had a lot of salary cap space after the first wave of free agency. More specifically, the Lakers were one of the two teams that had more than $15 million in cap space.

Rob Pelinka, Magic Johnson and the Lakers were looking to add another player — either Rajon Rondo or Caldwell-Pope — on an expensive one-year deal, so they could preserve the cap room for the summer of 2018. Both of those players took visits earlier on Tuesday.

Caldwell-Pope was never supposed to be an unrestricted free agent, but the Pistons added Avery Bradley via trade and KCP became expendable. As a result, he hit the market far later than most teams anticipated and the Lakers proved to be beneficiaries.

Now, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst is reporting that Caldwell-Pope will sign a one-year deal that’s worth $18 million.

The Lakers are looking for a starting shooting guard, with Lonzo Ball slotted to start at point guard and Jordan Clarkson still looking to come off the bench. Caldwell-Pope is a strong defender, exactly what the Lakers need at one of their guard spots. Ball struggles defensively and in his rookie season, it’s probably too much of a load to handle.

Now, KCP can handle the primary defensive duties, while Ball can guard the weaker player and potentially hide on the defensive end. It’ll make life easier on the rookie and coach Luke Walton. It’s a smart deal for Los Angeles, who need to use up the salary cap space — but only for this year, because they want to keep the decks clear for Paul George or even LeBron James.

Caldwell-Pope is a good signing for the Lakers, who look to build around their young core.

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