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Report: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope opting out of Lakers contract

Lakers guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope

LAKE BUENA VISTA, FL - OCTOBER 8: Jared Greenberg of NBATV interviews Kentavious Caldwell-Pope of the Los Angeles Lakers during practice and media availability as part of the 2020 NBA Finals on October 8, 2020 at AdventHealth Arena at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2020 NBAE (Photo by Garrett W. Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images)

NBAE via Getty Images

Rajon Rondo and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope stepped up for the Lakers in the NBA Finals. The guards now have that championship shine.

Rondo is taking advantage by opting out.

And apparently so is Caldwell-Pope, who holds a $8,493,746 player option.

Shams Charania of The Athletic:

Caldwell-Pope is expected to decline his $8.5 million player option, sources said.

Caldwell-Pope has major internal leverage with the Lakers:

  • He’s a good player whose 3-and-D skill set complements LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Caldwell-Pope also showed some creation ability, helping his game hold up deep in the playoffs.
  • The Lakers – still in title contention – probably wouldn’t have cap flexibility to adequately replace Caldwell-Pope this offseason if he leaves. However, they hold his Bird Rights and could re-sign him to any amount up to the max.
  • Caldwell-Pope shares an agent, Rich Paul, with LeBron (and Davis, who’s an impending free agent.) That always carries an implied threat. The Lakers obviously want to keep LeBron happy.

At 27, Caldwell-Pope could also garner outside interest.

The Lakers might be reluctant offer a long-term deal. They could potentially open major cap space around LeBron and Davis in 2021, when the free-agent class is stacked.

Caldwell-Pope has already signed a series of short deals with the Lakers. Another – larger than the last – could make sense again.