Kentavious Caldwell-Pope meets with Lakers, is patient as teams try to clear cap space for hit

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Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is the best free agent left on the market.

The Pistons decided not to pay big money to the 24-year-old restricted free agent, a long and athletic defensive wing who shot 35 percent from three last year and is working to become a more varied offensive threat. They went and got Avery Bradley and changed direction.

Caldwell-Pope met with the Lakers on Tuesday, reports Brian Windhorst of ESPN. The Lakers are only offering one -year deals, so he is being patient.

Several teams that previously were hesitant to pursue Caldwell-Pope have gotten engaged with him after the Pistons removed the threat of matching, sources said. Other teams in talks with Caldwell-Pope that have some cap space have been looking to create more, sources said.

The Lakers currently have $17 million in cap space but can get to $18.3 million in space. They are interested in doing one-year deals to protect their cap space in 2018, when the free-agent market will be loaded with stars.

The Lakers also met with Rajon Rondo Tuesday. 

Caldwell-Pope would prefer more money — he thought he could get maxed this summer — and a longer deal. He could take a one-year deal and go back on the market next summer, but there are going to be few teams with money next season — the market is going to be tight. The top guys — LeBron James, Paul George, Russell Westbrook, etc. — will get paid, and even the second tier guys teams want to keep will be fine (Andrew Wiggins, for example), but beyond that, it could be tough for guys to get what they think they’re due.

Expect this to drag out for a while, Caldwell-Pope’s agent is Rich Paul, and he has no fear of letting things play out over a long time. Teams will be shifting around cash, and eventually, he will get the offer he can live with.