NBA Rumor: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope Extension

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During a brief interview with reporters Sunday, Pistons owner Tom Gores expressed a strong desire to retain the 23-year-old shooting guard. Even if means signing Caldwell-Pope to a maximum-level contract. “I know Kentavious well,” Gores said. “He is a hard worker, he is reliable and he is improving everyday. He should be a Piston. That’s just bottom line: he has what it takes to be a Piston.”

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Market value and a rising salary cap in 2017-18 could mean Caldwell-Pope, 23, could command around $20 million a season. Re-signing him — and the Pistons have said they want to — would push them into the luxury tax, a play team owner Tom Gores has said he’s willing to make. “I don’t look at it as a necessity, but we would like to get something done,” Van Gundy said. “We like both guys; we’d like to have them around long-term. But it has to be something obviously that works for both sides. At this point, we don’t have that.”

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope extension unlikely

With roughly 24 hours remaining before the deadline for contract extensions for swingmen Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Reggie Bullock, Detroit Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy told the Free Press this morning “it’s hard to be optimistic.” Caldwell-Pope and Bullock would become restricted free agents next off-season if they don’t sign agreements by 5 p.m. Monday. “We don’t have anything yet,” Van Gundy said. “We still would like to, but it’s not the end of the world. On those things, it’s gotta be something that both sides feel good about.”

There was gossip over the summer that it would take a deal worth north of $20 million per year to get Caldwell-Pope’s signature. But the Pistons’ payroll is burgeoning, and owner Tom Gores likely will face a luxury-tax bill for being over the NBA’s tax line. Gores has said he wants the Pistons to retain Caldwell-Pope, the team’s best perimeter defender, and has indicated he will willingly pay the freight. But Gores would be well within his rights to limit the cost for a team that has proven only it can make the playoffs as the Eastern Conference’s eighth seed.

Detroit Pistons president-coach Stan Van Gundy said Wednesday the organization remains in contact with the representatives of swingmen Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Reggie Bullock for possible contract extensions. The deadline is Oct. 31. If deals aren’t reached, the two players will be restricted free agents next summer. “We definitely have a desire to get something done with both of them,” Van Gundy said. “I think both agents are clear on that from our side. “It’s a matter of two things — it’s a matter of what they want to do and obviously it’s a matter of money, so that’s where the negotiations are.”

It will be interesting to see how the Pistons handle the situation. The team is already projected to be over the cap for the 2017-18 season, and a Caldwell-Pope extension would almost assuredly put the Pistons into luxury tax territory. But owner Tom Gores told the Free Press recently he has no qualms about being a taxpayer. “Look, if we weren’t building a core, there’s really no point in paying the luxury tax,” Gores said. “Because we are building a core, would I do it? Yeah, absolutely. So you say go into the luxury tax for nothing, then that would be silly because then we’re putting the franchise behind. But given that we have such a good core, if that’s what it took, and we feel we’ve made such progress this year, I wouldn’t hesitate to do it because we want to keep getting better.”

With a possible KCP extension, you could threaten the luxury tax line (an NBA mechanism to curtail teams’ spending). Thoughts on being a luxury taxpayer? Gores: “Look, if we weren’t building a core, there’s really no point in paying the luxury tax. Because we are building a core, would I do it? Yeah, absolutely. This is a tremendous team. If you go down the line, player by player, and especially our young folks, these are real players. You look at KCP as a very diverse player. He keeps working at his game and you look at his improvement and just like anybody else, he will improve in other areas. Part of Stan’s coaching philosophy obviously is defense. So you say go into the luxury tax for nothing, then that would be silly because then we’re putting the franchise behind. But given that we have such a good core, if that’s what it took, and we feel we’ve made such progress this year, I wouldn’t hesitate to do it because we want to keep getting better.”

But with the Detroit Pistons’ fourth-year shooting guard eligible for a contract extension, the questions will keep coming until it’s resolved. Caldwell-Pope says the situation is not on his mind. “I haven’t thought about it,” Caldwell-Pope told the Free Press on Monday after working against Team USA as part of the USA Select team on UNLV’s campus. “I’m focusing this summer on getting better, and let my agent handle all that. I haven’t even talked to my agent about that. I’m just working on my game for next season.”

There was speculation among observers at the Orlando Pro Summer League that Caldwell-Pope could seek a multi-year deal worth around $20 million per season – understandable if you see the money being thrown around this off-season. That’s a price the Pistons are probably unwilling to pay – they’d rather get a deal around $15 million per season. Further complicating matters is news that the luxury tax for the 2017-18 season is projected at $122 million – down from an April projection $127 million.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope was not anxious to discuss the possibility of a contract extension this summer but that may be because he isn’t anxious to do it. The Detroit Pistons guard is eligible for an extension of his rookie contract this summer. If the Pistons and Caldwell-Pope do not reach agreement on an extension, which would take effect in 2017-18, then the player could become a restricted free agent in 2017. “Yeah, I mean, why do it now? It’s not in my mind. I mean, it could happen. If it does happen, it happens. But right now I’m going to stay focused and get better,” Caldwell-Pope said.
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