Lakers Rumors: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope Is Rockets' 'Top' Trade Target

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistDecember 19, 2018

Los Angeles Lakers guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope attempts a shot during the first half of an NBA preseason basketball game against the Sacramento Kings in Los Angeles, Thursday, Oct. 4, 2018. (AP Photo/Kelvin Kuo)
Kelvin Kuo/Associated Press

The Houston Rockets continue to search for help on the wing after failing to land Trevor Ariza, and the search has apparently turned to Los Angeles Lakers guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.

According to Marc Stein of the New York Times, Caldwell-Pope is considered the team's "top target" on the trade block. Cleveland Cavaliers veteran JR Smith was also listed as a possible option for Houston.

Perimeter depth has been a problem for the Rockets this season after losing Ariza to free agency in the offseason. While the team signed Carmelo Anthony to potentially fill the role, it gave up on the veteran after only 10 games.

James Ennis and Gerald Green have played significant minutes at the 3 this year, but neither has been particularly impressive on the court.

Caldwell-Pope is averaging just 9.1 points per game this season following his six points in Tuesday's loss to the Brooklyn Nets. However, he has shown his scoring ability in the past with four straight seasons of at least 12 points per game coming into the year, and he also plays above-average defense on the perimeter.

If he can consistently hit shots from three-point range, this would make him a perfect addition to the Rockets.

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The problem is that he is also useful on the Lakers, a team that is currently ahead of Houston in the standings. Unless the return is significant, Los Angeles might not want to help a Western Conference rival.

On the other hand, Caldwell-Pope's minutes might be difficult to come by with Rajon Rondo and Brandon Ingram set to return from their injuries, per Mike Bresnahan of Spectrum Sportsnet. Trading the pending free agent before he loses value could be a smart move for the Lakers to improve going forward.

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