The Lakers’ Kentavious Caldwell-Pope missed his new team’s first two games this season due to a suspension for a DUI case in Michigan.
But that was not all. Caldwell-Pope’s guilty plea came with probation, and to get out of it early the Lakers’ forward has to go through an intensive rehab program — one that does not allow him to leave California with the team for 25 days. He did not play against the Cavaliers and that is just the first of multiple games he will miss, a story broken by Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.
Caldwell-Pope was originally cited for operating a vehicle while intoxicated but pleaded guilty in May to the lesser charge of allowing someone to operate his vehicle while under the influence, which carried a 12-month probation.
On Thursday, Caldwell-Pope had to return to California to begin an intensive program over the next 25 days that will result in some travel restrictions and could cause him to miss additional games but will end his probation early.
The Lakers are in a home heavy part of their schedule, and by my calculations KCP would only miss three games (for sure against Houston Dec. 20, again in Houston on Dec. 31, then in Minnesota Jan. 1).
Caldwell-Pope signed a one-year, $18 million deal with the Lakers last offseason, and he has gone on to become one of the few reliable three-point shooters on the team, hitting 36.1 percent from beyond the arc, taking 6.1 shots from there a game. He’s been solid on defense and a player that has helped fuel the wins the Lakers have gotten this season, although his overall efficiency is closer to average.
If the Lakers are successful with their big game hunting during free agency next summer, Caldwell-Pope will not return to the team. It’s unlikely he does anyway. In a tight free agent market, he once again may not receive offers near what he sees himself worth next summer. That said, his play in Los Angeles has been good. And now he will not have this legal issue hanging over his head during free agency.