Lost in the shuffle of Kyle Kuzma scoring a game-high 33 points and good friends LeBron James and Dwyane Wade defending one another on the final possessions, was Los Angeles Lakers head coach Luke Walton having a bit of a heated exchange with Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.
It occurred in the first quarter as Caldwell-Pope walked to the bench after Walton called a timeout. Miami Heat forward Justise Winslow had just connected on jump shot, trimming the Lakers’ lead to 23-17.
Walton met Caldwell-Pope and had an impassioned message for him. The 25-year-old didn’t break stride on his way to the bench.
“It’s just coaching. He knew what he did. He acknowledged it, we moved on. It’s how it goes,” Walton said.
Caldwell-Pope similarly downplayed the exchange as carrying any sort of significance. “He was just telling me what I did wrong,” he explained. “We didn’t get into it, it was just a coaching moment. I took in what he said and locked in.”
Caldwell-Pope finds himself in a bit of an unsettling position. Saturday marks the first day he is eligible to be traded, and speculation is the Lakers are looking to move him as part of their quest to acquire Trevor Ariza from the Phoenix Suns.
Caldwell-Pope does hold a full no-trade clause, but his representatives — Klutch Sports, which also represent LeBron James — are reportedly exploring potential deals. Should Caldwell-Pope see an opportunity for more playing time, he presumably would approve a trade in hopes of it eventually leading to a long-term contract in 2019 free agency.
Caldwell-Pope scored 11 points in the Lakers’ 108-105 win over the Heat, marking a fourth consecutive game and sixth in the past seven he’s reached double-figures.
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