That made their mission this summer clear: Preserve and clear 2018 cap space while upgrading the team for 2017-18 as much as possible.
Brook Lopez, acquired in the Timofey Mozgov salary dump that sent D'Angelo Russell to the Nets, was an ideal fit. Lopez will help the Lakers establish credibility this season, and his contract expires afterward.
Likewise, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope emerged as a partner in a mutually beneficial relationship with the Lakers. He unexpectedly became an unrestricted free agent onlu after many teams spent their cap space. Rather than lock into a long-term discount, he sought a one-year deal to get back on the market again next year. He was the best shooting guard the Lakers could have gotten on a one-year contract.
Multiple league sources suggested to ESPN that a major motivating factor in the Lakers’ signing Kentavious Caldwell-Pope to a one-year, $18 million deal this offseason was because Caldwell-Pope is repped by Rich Paul, the same agent as James.
It’s fun to speculate about all things LeBron-Los Angeles, and I think that drives a lot of these rumors.
Show me a plan for the Lakers better than signing Caldwell-Pope, even if he had a different agent. Caldwell-Pope’s transition speed, defense against both guard spots and spot-up 3-point shooting make him a nice fit with rookie point guard Lonzo Ball. (If only Caldwell-Pope could create in the halfcourt, it’d be a perfect pairing.) And the Lakers upgraded at shooting guard without any long-term commitment.
The chance to impress Paul is a bonus, but it’s not as if even that gives the Lakers carte blanche to discuss LeBron with him. After all, the Lakers were just fined for communications with George’s agent, who also represents current Laker Julius Randle and just-traded Russell.
If the Lakers do well by their players – including Caldwell-Pope – that will eventually get back to LeBron, anyway. The lines of communication can just be a little more direct now.