Kentavious Caldwell-Pope reveals LeBron James stuck with him through darkest time of his career
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope experienced some of his darkest times in the league upon getting the chance to play with LeBron James in 2018-19. The Los Angeles Lakers teammates are also represented by Rich Paul, which formed an even stronger bond between them.
KCP had gone from a $23 million balloon deal in 2017-18 to earning almost half the next season to play next to James, though he was hardly proving his value. This season, he was averaging just 5.0 points on 35% shooting, and an awful 20% from deep in the first 10 games of the season before getting the nod to start over the injured Avery Bradley. Caldwell-Pope credited James and the rest of his teammates for having faith in him through some rough times:
“I’ve got real brothers in the locker room,” he said, according to Broderick Turner of The Los Angeles Times. “They helped me get through it. Even though it was a lot on myself, they helped me get through it. I have a bunch of guys who have been through that, especially that No. 1 guy has been through that — LeBron (James) has been through criticism his whole career. So he talked to me a little bit. ‘There’s nothing to worry about. Just play.’”
James admitted the key in supporting a sharpshooter like KCP was to let him know this was a team-wide struggle as much as his own personal rut.
“If one of our brothers is going through a difficult time, we pick him up,” James said. “And we let him know we’re right there in the foxhole with him, and that’s just what we were telling KCP early on when he was struggling with his shot or struggling with his play. ‘Listen, we’re right here with you. We’re in the foxhole with you and your time will come. Just continue to put in the work and continue to trust your habits.’ Obviously those rumblings have quieted down quite a bit.”
Despite a questionable start to the season for KCP, the Lakers have thrived to the drum of a 19-3 record, leaving very little room to criticize his play. He’s now averaging 10.6 points, making 52.5% of his shots from the field and 47.7% of his 3-point attempts since becoming a starter.