LeBron James wants to make sure ‘MVP’ Kentavious Caldwell-Pope gets his due
After winning their first championship in a decade, the Los Angeles Lakers head into what could be a short offseason facing questions about their lineup next season, including which of their players they should re-sign as they look to repeat as champions.
Lakers forward and reigning Finals MVP LeBron James, however, has given a vote of confidence to shooting guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who will reportedly opt out of his current contract with the team to test free agency.
— LeBron James (@KingJames) October 28, 2020
James took to Twitter to praise his teammate, playfully calling him “Caldwell-MVPope” and acknowledging his postseason performances with the team as “phenomenal.” Caldwell-Pope, like James, is also represented by Klutch Sports and James’ agent and longtime friend Rich Paul, so this could be the four-time champion’s way of saying that the Lakers should keep the shooting guard for at least another season.
Caldwell-Pope who was drafted with the eighth overall pick out of Georgia by the Detroit Pistons in the 2013 NBA Draft and spent his first four seasons with the franchise, still has a year remaining in his two-year, $16 million deal which he signed last offseason. But he is expected to opt out of his contract, which will pay him $8.5 million in the 2020-2021 season, to see if other teams are willing to give him a better deal.
But like what James said, Caldwell-Pope was a difference-maker for the Purple and Gold in the playoffs. In 21 postseason games, he averaged 10.7 points, 2.1 rebounds, 1.2 assists, and one steal while making 41.8% from the field and 37.8% from downtown. This includes averages of 16 points, 2.7 rebounds, 2.3 assists, while shooting 45% from the field and 34.8% from downtown in the last three games of the NBA Finals to help the Lakers turn back the Miami Heat and win their first championship since 2010.
A guard who can shoot and defend and is coming off a strong performance in the playoffs and Finals is sure to draw interest from different teams, especially given the relatively weaker class of free agents this offseason. In James’ tweet, however, he seems to suggest that if the Lakers are going to make another run at the Larry O’Brien trophy, the team may need to bring back one of their key contributors from last season.