Caldwell-Pope has struggled since moving to the bench, averaging just 4.7 points and 1.5 rebounds in 16.3 minutes over his last six games.
Caldwell-Pope began the year as the starter at shooting guard, but the Lakers quickly pivoted to the younger Josh Hart, who started strongly but has struggled in his own right of late. With the exception of last week's loss to Minnesota, in which he played only seven minutes, Caldwell-Pope has been locked into 15-20 minutes on most nights, but he's providing little-to-no fantasy value. He's without an assist in five straight games and has hit just one three-pointer in that span.
Caldwell-Pope produced eight points (2-5 FG, 2-4 3Pt) and two rebounds across 22 minutes in the Lakers' 121-114 win over the Nuggets on Thursday. He's averaging 11.0 points (on 42.1 percent shooting) and 2.0 rebounds across 27.5 minutes in two games since being moved to the second unit.
KCP endured a dreadful start to the season, averaging just 3.0 points on 26.6 percent shooting over the first three games. Coach Luke Walton decided to shake things up a bit following an 0-3 start, with Caldwell-Pope's demotion serving as one of the more notable moves the Lakers head man opted to make. It appears to have worked reasonably well for all involved, as the team has now garnered consecutive wins while the veteran guard's performance has markedly improved. Meanwhile, Josh Hart, Caldwell-Pope's replacement on the first unit, has also generated a pair of solid efforts, lending credence to the notion the current alignment will hold for the time being. KCP saw a solid amount of minutes in his first two games off the bench, so he should still have a fighting chance at a serviceable line each night.
Caldwell-Pope will come off the bench during Wednesday's game against the Suns, Dave McMenamin of ESPN.com reports.
Perhaps the decision is a reflection of the Lakers slow start to the 2018 season, but it doesn't appear as though Caldwell-Pope's demotion will drastically alter his immediate role. Josh Hart, Caldwell-Pope's replacement, has earned the trust of Los Angeles' brass and could be a permanent starter as the season progresses. For now, Caldwell-Pope still figures to get his 20 minutes, but the development is something to keep an eye on over the next couple of games.
Caldwell-Pope had five points (2-8 FG, 0-3 3Pt, 1-2 FT), three rebounds, and one assist in 18 minutes during Saturday's 124-115 loss to the Rockets.
Caldwell-Pope has managed just five points in each of the first two games (on 11 total shot attempts). Meanwhile backup shooting guard Josh Hart has flexed his two-way abilities and could continue to eat into Caldwell-Pope's minutes, as the sophomore is already averaging 28.5 minutes to the veteran's 22.5 thus far.
Caldwell-Pope (knee) took part in practice Monday and worked with the starting group, Bill Oram of The Athletic reports.
Caldwell-Pope was held out of the preseason finale Friday due to tendinitis in his knee, but the issue doesn't appear to be anything of great concern, even though he was held out of the final scrimmage Monday as a precaution. "In my medical opinion I think he's going to be just fine," head coach Luke Walton said after the session. Perhaps the more relevant news is that Caldwell-Pope worked as a starter alongside Rajon Rondo in the backcourt, which could be an indication of how Walton is leaning in advance of the regular season opener Thursday in Portland. Caldwell-Pope has been in competition, primarily, with Josh Hart for the starting shooting guard job, and Walton said Monday that he'll continue to evaluate the position on a daily basis.
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