3. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
Price: 3 years, $39.1mil and $30mil fully guaranteed. Becomes an unrestricted free agent in 2023-24.
Ah, how quickly one’s perception of a player can shift.
If this contract was signed last offseason, it would’ve drawn the collective fury of the entirety of Lakers Nation. However, in the 2019-20 playoffs, KCP established himself as the third-best player on the roster. Without him, there’s every chance the Lakers aren’t the defending champions.
His playoff numbers of 10.7ppg on 41.8% shooting from the field and 37.8% shooting from three don’t jump off the page, and in reality, aren’t too much better than his regular-season numbers.
However, KCP was the only consistent floor-spacer on the team for the entirety of the season, and his off-ball prowess was a great fit in closing lineups next to LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
Looking at the KCP signing objectively, by the end of the contract it may be seen as a slight overpay. Despite career-best efficiency numbers (46.7% from the field, 38.5% from three), his defensive performance dropped drastically last season, ranking in the 15th percentile for Defensive PIPM.
Without the above-average defense that he’s been known for throughout his career, KCP becomes a shooting specialist that’s merely an above-average shooter – not the type of player you want to spend over $13mil a season on.
However, despite having been around seemingly forever, he’s only 27 years of age and just entering his prime. I’m betting on positive regression defensively and I’m betting on the shooting numbers being sustainable if he can continue to be amongst the league leaders in 3PT Shot Quality (96th percentile, according to Bball Index).
The next signing is a wily veteran whose experience could be invaluable in the Lakers’ quest to repeat.