17 Aug

Lakers’ Kentavious Caldwell-Pope stays centered amid swirling trade rumors

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREUCLA alum Kenny Clark signs four-year contract extension with Packers LOS ANGELES — In most other games, in most other situations, it would have gone unnoticed.Luke Walton called a timeout late in the first quarter, and as the team walked toward the bench, TV cameras caught Walton approaching Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and appearing to make a passionate critique. Caldwell-Pope never broke stride as he seemed to wave Walton off.Without sound, there are a number of ways to interpret that. One is the way Walton and Caldwell-Pope said it happened: It was a heat-of-the-moment exchange in the game, one of countless such interactions that happen all the time. Pope went on to be a helpful player in the Lakers’ 108-105 victory over the Heat on Monday night, scoring 11 points and adding three assists.“It’s just coaching,” Walton said. “He knew what he did. He acknowledged it. We moved on.” Caldwell-Pope strongly denied that was the case.“He was just telling me what I did wrong,” he said. “It was just a coaching moment. We didn’t get into it. It was a coaching moment. Took in what he said, and just locked in (during the) second half.”Sign up for Home Turf and get exclusive stories every SoCal sports fan must read, sent daily. Subscribe here.That’s the difficulty of being the subject of trade rumors: micro-analyzing of tension that might or might not exist. Most around the team observe Caldwell-Pope to be nothing if not professional: On Monday morning, he was LeBron James’ shooting partner in an after-practice contest against Kyle Kuzma and Lonzo Ball, as well as assistants Miles Simon and Brian Shaw. There are no clear signs that he’s drifting from the group, even as reports have cited that he could be traded as early as Saturday.In fact, Caldwell-Pope has played his best basketball of the season in December: In the last five games, he’s averaging 11.4 points and a steal per game, while shooting above 41 percent from 3-point range. It’s been a needed boost as the Lakers have dealt with injuries to Rajon Rondo and Brandon Ingram, shortening the guard rotation.Caldwell-Pope isn’t deaf to the circling rumors about him being traded: He allowed the slightest of smiles to escape as he was asked about the difficulty of dealing with such reports. But he also said he’s not too worried about it, either.“I’m just focused right now,” he said. “Playing here now.”MOVING ON UPWith 28 points against the Heat, LeBron James crossed a number of thresholds in the record book.To start, it was his 900th consecutive game in at least double figures. James passed Paul Pierce for 10th place with most double-digit games, now up to 1,162. James has failed to score in double figures only eight times in his career. James also secured his 778th win of the regular season, tying Paul Silas (his first head coach in Cleveland) for 19th-most all-time by an individual.Related Articles How athletes protesting the national anthem has evolved over 17 years Trail Blazers beat Grizzlies in play-in, earn first-round series with the Lakers Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorcenter_img Lakers practice early hoping to answer all questions Trail Blazers, Grizzlies advance to NBA play-in game; Suns, Spurs see playoff dreams dashed Lakers, Clippers schedules set for first round of NBA playoffs But the context of Caldwell-Pope’s situation – with an ESPN report naming him as a potential trade chip in a deal with the Phoenix Suns – brings with it incredible scrutiny. It’s probably not fair that body language, playing time and all sorts of other interactions will be weighed as signs of strain between Caldwell-Pope and the Lakers, but it’s happening.Spectrum broadcast cameras lingered on the moment between Walton and his player as the team headed into the timeout, and a viewer could have taken it to mean that Caldwell-Pope was ignoring his coach. Some observers on social media did make that assumption.last_img

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