The Los Angeles Lakers have emerged as the prime destination for free agent shooting guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who has now become an unrestricted free agent after the Detroit Pistons renounced their rights to him on Friday. The Lakers, who made an unsuccessful attempt to lure in Dion Waiters earlier this week, are again viewed among the top suitors for the two-way guard.

Pistons say bye to Caldwell-Pope

Pistons head coach and general manager Stan Van Gundy made a power move by renouncing their rights to match any offer sheet for Caldwell-Pope. Many NBA insiders saw the move to renounce Caldwell-Pope coming after the Pistons completed the trade with the Boston Celtics for two-way guard Avery Bradley.

The Pistons sent Marcus Morris and some cap relief (in order to sign Gordon Hayward) to the Celtics in exchange for Bradley and a 2019 second-round pick. As a result, Caldwell-Pope can now entertain other offers in the open market, with NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN mentioning the Brooklyn Nets and Los Angeles Lakers as the teams seriously pursuing the guard.

Nets and Lakers top suitors

The Nets are reportedly intrigued with the idea of pairing the two-way guard to new acquisition D’Angelo Russell. The Nets have been trying to salvage a promising young player off the market over the past two years, but their attempts were denied because of restricted free agency rule. The Nets recently placed a four-year, $106 million offer sheet for restricted free agent Otto Porter, and again the Wizards immediately matched the offer.

With Caldwell-Pope no longer a restricted free-agent, the Nets are expected to go all-in with the same kind of deal.

The Lakers are another team trying to acquire a significant talent off the market in the past two weeks. After executing the trade that sent Russell and Timofey Mozgov to the Nets in exchange for Brook Lopez and a late first-round pick, the Lakers haven’t made any significant move in the free-agency market.

They had some close calls to acquire George Hill and Dion Waiters, but their inability to offer a multi-year deal (in an effort to preserve cap space for next summer) has been a huge roadblock to their cause. Now, the Lakers front-office are hoping Caldwell-Pope, who averaged 13.8 points on 39 percent FG shooting, will buy into their one-year deal offer that pays him at least $20 million per year.

The Lakers boast a collection of young players (Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Julius Randle and Ivica Zubac), making the transition a lot easier for Caldwell-Pope. On the other hand, the Nets’ ability to place longer and more lucrative deal could be the game-changer in the bidding war.

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