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Making a case for and against LA Lakers trading Kentavious Caldwell-Pope before the 2021 NBA trade deadline

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (#1) of the LA Lakers
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (#1) of the LA Lakers
ANALYST
Modified 25 Mar 2021
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As per the latest NBA trade rumors, the LA Lakers could move Kentavious Caldwell-Pope before the 2021 trade deadline. The Purple and Gold are likely to be active in the trade market to address the various deficiencies in their roster.

With the playoffs just a few weeks away, the LA Lakers need to add more talent for a successful title defense campaign. They are currently enduring the toughest stretch of the ongoing 2020-21 season, as both LeBron James and Anthony Davis are on the sidelines with injury.

So the time could be right for the LA Lakers to work their magic and pull off a win-now move by trading away Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. On the flip side, the move could backfire and hinder their title aspirations later in the year.

Recent NBA trade rumors suggest that the LA Lakers will shop around with Kentavious Caldwell-Pope in this year's trade market. Interestingly, KCP was one of the top-performing role players for the LA Lakers last season.

Considering his contribution in the LA Lakers winning their first NBA title after a decade, KCP was rewarded with a three-year $40 million contract in the off-season. However, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope has not been able to replicate those performances this campaign and has subsequently found his name doing the rounds, with the trade deadline a few hours away.

On that note, let us analyze if the LA Lakers should trade away Kentavious Caldwell-Pope or not.

The case for LA Lakers trading Kentavious Caldwell-Pope before the 2021 Trade Deadline

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (#1) managed only three points in the loss against the New Orleans Pelicans.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (#1) managed only three points in the loss against the New Orleans Pelicans.

The most significant reason why KCP's name is surfacing in trade rumors is his declining impact on the LA Lakers. At the start of the season, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope seemingly picked things where he left off in the 2020 playoffs but has cooled off since then.

His numbers have taken a hit in the last two months, as he is averaging only 7.8 points on 38.3% shooting in February. What makes things worse is his season average of 8.4 points per game, which happens to be his lowest since he joined the league in the 2013-14 season.

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Another reason why the Lakers could be open to trading KCP is his lack of playmaking ability.

Every shooter in the game goes through rough spells but has other attributes to fall back on when the going gets tough. However, in KCP's case, he does not have an all-around game to boast of. He is clocking only 1.5 assists per game in 40 appearances thus far and has not displayed any improvement in that area.

With two of their key stars sidelined with injury, the LA Lakers need reliable scoring options to weather the storm in the duo's absence.

After James went down in the game against the Atlanta Hawks, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope has only managed to score a woeful ten points in three outings. Their most recent loss to the New Orleans Pelicans witnessed KCP producing a meager three points in 22 minutes from the floor.

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The case against LA Lakers trading Kentavious Caldwell-Pope before the 2021 Trade Deadline

Jimmy Butler and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope fight for possession during game one of the 2020 NBA Finals.
Jimmy Butler and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope fight for possession during game one of the 2020 NBA Finals.

Despite his underwhelming performances this season, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is an NBA champion who helped LeBron James and Anthony Davis carry the load offensively for the LA Lakers in the 2020 playoffs.

KCP scored in double digits in every Finals game against the Miami Heat, finishing the series with a respectable 12.8 PPG in six outings.

It should also be noted that Kentavious Caldwell-Pope was the third scoring option on the LA Lakers team. No other LA Lakers player averaged double digits in the Finals apart from James, Davis and KCP. That in itself should serve as one of the biggest reasons why the LA Lakers shouldn't trade away KCP before the trade deadline.

NBA trade rumors surrounding Kentavious Caldwell-Pope are to be expected at this stage of the campaign, though. KCP had gone through a similar ordeal last season with the LA Lakers as well, with fans wanting him to be moved before the trade deadline.

Nevertheless, KCP came back with a strong showing in the 2020 playoffs and earned his first ring with the team he's been a part of since 2017-18.

While this is pure speculation, there could still play out a scenario where the LA Lakers trade KCP away and later witness him finding his groove and generating offense at a high level. If that plays out, and KCP's replacement doesn't have the same impact at the LA Lakers, they'll surely miss his ability to sink long-range daggers in the playoffs.

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It can be argued that KCP was integral in the LA Lakers' title run last year, as his timely threes helped take the pressure off their two stars in every series leading to the Finals.

History could repeat itself, as there is a good chance KCP could rekindle his form before the postseason. It would be deja vu for the LA Lakers if that turns out to be true.

Follow the live NBA trade deadline 2021 news and rumors here.

Published 25 Mar 2021, 00:56 IST
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