As part of a plea agreement stemming from his March arrest under suspicion of drunk driving, Caldwell-Pope is being required to enter a 25-day program that he says requires him to remain in the state of California.
“It has been very disappointing to me as well, as far as my teammates, I feel like I let them down as well, my coaches, the organization,” Caldwell-Pope said. “I just have to deal with this legal situation that came with it.”
Caldwell-Pope scored 24 points against the New York Knicks on Dec. 12, but had to leave the team after the game for a court appearance in Michigan. He and his team expected him to return in time for the Lakers to play the Cleveland Cavaliers on Dec. 14, but Caldwell-Pope was not able to make it.
It is unclear whether his court appearance in Michigan was scheduled at his initial sentencing or at some point since then. Caldwell-Pope’s attorney, Jeffrey Lance Abood, did not return multiple phone calls, emails and text messages requesting clarification or a statement about Caldwell-Pope’s situation.
“With the court situation, we came up with the agreement that I still get to carry on with my season but only in the state of California for the 25-day restriction that I have,” Caldwell-Pope said. “I was blessed that I am able to continue to play ball.”
While playing for the Detroit Pistons, Caldwell-Pope was arrested at about 3 a.m. on March 29 in Auburn Hills, Mich. A few hours before, the Pistons had lost to the Miami Heat at home. Caldwell-Pope was initially charged with operating a vehicle while under the influence, but later pleaded guilty to a lesser misdemeanor charge of allowing a person to drive under the influence.
He was sentenced to 12 months of probation. According to the Detroit Free Press, that probation held the condition that he not leave the state of Michigan without permission. But Caldwell-Pope was not restricted from leaving Michigan to sign with the Lakers in July. He did not miss any of training camp and until last week missed only two regular-season games. The NBA suspended Caldwell-Pope for the first two games of the season as part of the league’s substance abuse policy.
Since then Caldwell-Pope hasn’t missed a game and has traveled with the Lakers to Phoenix, Utah, Portland, Boston, Washington, Milwaukee, Sacramento, Denver, Philadelphia and New York.
“This is a legal matter, stemming from an incident that occurred last season while Kentavious was a member of another NBA team,” read a statement the Lakers released Saturday. “The Los Angeles Lakers are abiding by the terms of a program for Kentavious that were established for him by a court in the state of Michigan. As such, we will have no further comment at this time.”
The Lakers have 12 games during the 25-day period but only four of them are on the road and only three of those four are outside California. They’ll play in Houston on the 20th and 31st, in Oakland on the 22nd and in Minneapolis on Jan. 1.
Lakers coach Luke Walton declined to comment on the situation except to say that he was not aware until last week of the possibility of Caldwell-Pope missing games. Caldwell-Pope practiced with the Lakers on Saturday and will not have any restrictions on practicing at home with the team.
“He is one of those guys that hits big shots for us and when you are on the road you can stall out a little bit like we have a tendency to do from time to time and he is somebody that can get it going and hit two or three straight jumpers or make a big play on defense or get a steal for us,” Walton said. “There are things from both ends of the floor that we will miss from him. But it was nice having him back with us today in practice.”
The Lakers signed Caldwell-Pope to a one-year deal worth $18 million this summer. Caldwell-Pope was a restricted free agent but could not come to an agreement with the Pistons so they relinquished their right to sign him.
Caldwell-Pope’s agent, Rich Paul, also represents LeBron James, a player the Lakers are expected to target in free agency next summer.
Follow Tania Ganguli on Twitter @taniaganguli