How the Lakers’ deliberative approach in free agency secured Caldwell-Pope

first_img“I see you and Magic have been really careful with your space and being patient,” Let’s talk,” Paul texted to Pelinka.“It’s like a lightning bolt hit us,” Pelinka said. “This has to be our focus. We have to find a way.”So, the Lakers kept in touch frequently with Paul. They watched more game film, which showed Caldwell-Pope often defending the opposing team’s best player. They found analytics that showed Caldwell-Pope was among the best players in dribble handoffs.“What he’ll do for this team I think as a leader and with his basketball skills is going to be critical for what we’re building,” Pelinka said. “We’re so grateful for that.”Caldwell-Pope sounded just as grateful, saying “it’s a blessing sitting next to a legend” in Johnson. He said “it’s a blessing to sit next to our new signed free agent, KCP.”“My team prepared me well,” Caldwell-Pope said. “I felt like we made the best decision.”The Lakers feel the same way.AlsoPelinka said the Lakers plan to complete their roster in “one or two weeks.” Among the options at backup point guard include Ian Clark and Tyler Ennis, according to league sources.Lakers rookie point guard Lonzo Ball had an MRI on Tuesday that confirmed a mild calf strain in his right leg, an injury that kept him out of Monday’s Summer League championship win. Ball plans to rest for the next one or two weeks, a period most NBA players rest anyway. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREUCLA alum Kenny Clark signs four-year contract extension with Packers“Just being patient and understanding we didn’t have to spend the cap space,” Johnson said. “But if we were going to spend the cap space, make sure it was a special player and a player that can really bring something we didn’t have already. KCP is that guy.”Johnson called Caldwell-Pope a “special two-guard” before gushing about his high basketball IQ, his toughness and his ability to play at point guard, shooting guard and small forward on both offense and defense. Johnson also likened Caldwell-Pope to his former Showtime teammate, Michael Cooper, a versatile forward known for both defending the opposing team’s best player and nailing outside shots.The Lakers had considered options. They had met with guards George Hill and Dion Waiters before they chose elsewhere because they attracted multi-year deals. But with the Lakers set on keeping cap space available next season when LeBron James, Paul George and Russell Westbrook could become free agents, the Lakers refused to settle.“It’s not just what you say yes to, it’s also who you say no to,” Pelinka said. “When you’re a team with cap space, a lot of stuff is being presented and flashed to you. At the time, it might look alluring. But you have to have patience and you have to be deliberate. You have to stay in touch with the agent community in terms of the free agents they have.”One of those agents was Rich Paul, who represents both Caldwell-Pope and James. Paul texted Pelinka during free agency, impressed with the team’s insistence on making moves to their own timeline. Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorcenter_img EL SEGUNDO >> The gratitude seemed apparent both through their words and body language.Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson and General Manager Rob Pelinka flashed infectious smiles on Tuesday as they sat next to shooting guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. Johnson considered Caldwell-Pope “a steal” after signing him to a one-year, $18 million deal. Pelinka considered it a “special day” to have Caldwell-Pope’s introductory news conference at the Lakers’ practice facility.Pelinka later said that he and Johnson “could not tailor stitch more of a perfect two guard” because of Caldwell-Pope’s defensive versatility, his outside shooting (35 percent last season with Detroit) and mentorship presence.Usually, NBA teams move heaven and earth to make such moves possible. So it seemed fitting Pelinka quoted the book of Genesis, likening Caldwell-Pope’s signing to “Israelites wandering from desert and then bread came down from heaven.” Yet, Caldwell-Pope became a potential savior more because the Lakers spent the beginning of free agency on the sidelines.last_img

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