Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Amid all the trade news that erupted across the NBA over the last few days, one piece of news went largely unnoticed. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope has officially decided to decline his 2020-21 player option with the Los Angeles Lakers. This makes KCP an unrestricted free agent after he stood to make $8.5 million with LA.

My first thought when I saw this news was, “Who does this guy think he is?”

Off an NBA Finals victory, this decision is even more bizarre. Rather than run it back with the defending champs, KCP is trying to secure the bag. Essentially, he’s opting out because he believes he’ll earn more money as a free agent – from the Lakers or some other team. How much does he think he’s worth? $10 million or more?

First of all, this is a gross misevaluation of how badly the Lakers need him. They don’t. KCP has zero leverage to get anything more than what the Lakers were already going to pay him.

For context, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scored 9.3 points per game last season. That wasn’t good enough to finish as one of the NBA’s top 100 scorers. You’d expect that a shooting guard betting on himself like this would actually be a productive contributor on offense. Not so with KCP.

9.3 points per game is affordable for a lot less than whatever KCP thinks he’s going to get. Okay, sure, he’s an above-average defender, but being slightly above average on defense doesn’t warrant over $10 million a year.

It’s so absurd to me that Kentavious Caldwell-Pope expects to make more than $8.5 million as a free agent. I legitimately cannot wrap my head around how valuable this guy thinks he is. The worst part is, I know he’s going to get it. Some team that doesn’t know any better will give it to him. Will he be worth it? Of course not. But that’s what happens when you combine a player’s inflated worth coming off a championship with a weak free agency class.


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