Kentavious Caldwell-Pope will not be traded to get Anthony Davis because of the Lakers’ summer plans
Of course, one team that will be in the thick of the Davis sweepstakes is the Los Angeles Lakers. The Lakers have the young talent to trade for Davis, and they will have the cap room to extend him after next summer.
Here is the thing, though: a lot of people are putting Kentavious Caldwell-Pope in their trade scenarios for Davis not knowing the implications of him.
As Nick Wright of FOX Sports explains, Caldwell-Pope is an expiring contract, and keeping him on the roster through this season so he becomes an unrestricted free agent at year’s end would open up enough cap room for the Lakers to go out and sign another star to play alongside of Davis and LeBron James.
With a deep free-agent pool, Los Angeles will have plenty of opportunities to bring aboard another star this summer.
Of course, it’s a two-way street, as those players will also have to be open to playing for the Lakers (which has been a relatively sticky issue of late), but it would nice for Los Angeles to add least have the financial capability to add someone like Kawhi Leonard.
Naturally, you would think to include Caldwell-Pope in a deal for Davis before the trade deadline because of the fact that he is an expiring deal making $12 million this season, so he would be a nice piece to throw in for salary matching purposes.
However, the Lakers would be wise to get more creative with their trade offers, because if they end up moving Caldwell-Pope, they could end up costing themselves the chance to add another top-tier free agent this offseason.
Now, it probably won’t matter much in the grand scheme of things anyway, as it does not seem likely that the Pelicans will trade Davis before the Feb. 7 deadline.
After all, Davis can’t opt out of his contract until next summer, so he has under team control through 2020. Plus, New Orleans isn’t going to want to rush to move the 25-year-old. This is going to be one of the most important moves any team in league history makes, as Davis is a generational talent. If you are going to trade him, you better make sure you are getting good value.
For that reason, the Pelicans would be wise to wait until the offseason to move him and should instead focus on gathering information and gauging the market around the league before they make any rash decisions.
Let’s also keep in mind that due to a stipulation in the trade that the Boston Celtics made for Kyrie Irving during the summer of 2017 (known as the “Rose rule”), the Celtics cannot deal for Davis until the summer. With Boston having even more assets to trade for Davis than the Lakers, New Orleans will almost surely want to wait for the C’s to make their pitch.
You also have to take the New York Knicks into consideration.
The Knicks currently own one of the worst records in the NBA and have a legitimate shot at the No. 1 overall pick. If they end up winning the draft lottery, then that changes everything, as New York will essentially have Zion Williamson at its disposal in addition to numerous other young pieces, possibly even including Kristaps Porzingis (although Porzingis will be a restricted free agent this summer).
There are going to be a ton of teams making offers to the Pelicans for Davis, so expecting New Orleans to reach a deal sometime within the next week or so just does not seem very realistic.
Again, the Pelicans aren’t trading Julius Randle here; they are getting set to trade away arguably the best power forward since Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett and possibly the best current player in the NBA
If New Orleans is going to do this (and it looks like it has to), it needs to get it right.
But, if you are the Lakers, you need to keep all of this in mind. Letting Caldwell-Pope prevent you from having the opportunity to land another big-name free agent to potentially group with Davis and LeBron would be a catastrophic mistake, and I’m sure Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka are aware of it.
The craziest part about all of this is that it’s only January, so if the Pelicans don’t trade Davis by Feb. 7 (and they probably won’t), we are going to have to deal with months and months of speculation.
Remember the Kawhi Leonard saga last year? Imagine that and multiply it by 10. That’s how insane this Davis trade request is about to get.