BY GREG BEACHAM and JON KRAWCZYNSKI
LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Los Angeles Lakers have signed free agent guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope to a one-year, $18 million contract, a person with knowledge of the deal told The Associated Press.
Caldwell-Pope was among the top talents remaining on the free agent market after spending his first four NBA seasons with the Detroit Pistons. The former eighth overall pick from Georgia averaged 13.8 points, 3.3 rebounds and 2.5 assists last season while starting 75 games.
After hitting a career-best 35 percent of his 3-pointers last season, the 6-foot-5 Pope could play a major role next year for the Lakers alongside point guard Lonzo Ball, the second overall pick. Los Angeles traded D’Angelo Russell to Brooklyn last month, and Nick Young signed with Golden State.
Caldwell-Pope also is a strong two-way player who is expected to improve the Lakers’ defensive competence. Los Angeles became a solid offensive team last season under first-year coach Luke Walton, but only two teams allowed more than the Lakers’ 111.5 points per game.
Detroit renounced its rights to Caldwell-Pope last week after acquiring Avery Bradley in a trade with Boston. Caldwell-Pope has been a starter since his rookie season with the Pistons, but they elected not to award him a lucrative long-term deal to stay.
By agreeing to a one-year deal with the rebuilding Lakers, Caldwell-Pope will be able to hit the market as an unrestricted free agent in 2018 when a longer-term deal could be available from the Lakers or another club.
The person who told the AP about the contract spoke on condition of anonymity Tuesday night because the deal hasn’t been announced.
Los Angeles appears to be using all of its available salary cap space on Caldwell-Pope. He will be their second highest-paid player next season behind newly acquired center Brook Lopez, who also will be a free agent next summer.
General manager Rob Pelinka has said the Lakers are firmly committed to preserving enough cap space in 2018 to sign two free agents to max contracts. Luol Deng and Jordan Clarkson are the only veterans on Los Angeles’ roster with a contract beyond the upcoming season.
Caldwell-Pope is suspended for the first two games of next season. He was arrested in March, and he pleaded guilty last month to operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated.
Krawczynski reported from Las Vegas.
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