6 former Lakers who would’ve turned LA into true title contenders this season

The Lakers need these former players on their roster to be title contenders.
Los Angeles Lakers, Alex Caruso, LeBron James
Los Angeles Lakers, Alex Caruso, LeBron James / Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
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2. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope

KCP is the perfect role player to put around LeBron James or any superstar. The 6’5 wing can guard multiple positions and is happy spacing the floor and knocking down open shots. He can play 30-plus minutes every night and defend at a high level. Caldwell-Pope has transformed into an elite shooter, who has made over 40 percent from 3-point range over the last five seasons combined.

The Lakers dumped KCP and Kyle Kuzma in the trade that brought Russell Westbrook to LA. They thought getting a third star would boost their title odds, but it had the opposite impact. The franchise missed Kuzma’s size and needed another 3-and-D wing like KCP as they missed the playoffs entirely in 2022.

The Lakers only made another deep postseason run after they traded Westbrook and got multiple role players in return. They would have been significantly better off if they kept Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Kuzma, but it was not meant to be.

KCP was a starter and key role player in the Nuggets' 2023 championship run. Denver is back in contention behind Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray, but Caldwell-Pope is a necessary 3-and-D wing that they cannot afford to lose. KCP can become an unrestricted free agent this summer, and the Lakers should try to bring him back to Hollywood.