The Los Angeles Lakers have been without guard Avery Bradley for over two weeks, but finally got some good news on his return timeline this week.
Bradley has missed eight games with a hairline fracture in his right leg. He played through the injury for a few games with it initially being referred to as a bruise, later learning of the fracture.
While he’s not quite ready to return to the lineup, Bradley has been cleared for “basketball progression.”
“Well, I’m just happy for him because it’s no fun sitting, especially when he’s off to such a strong start to his season,” Lakers head coach Frank Vogel told reporters on Saturday. “So I’m just happy he’s going to get out and sweat a little more and start his progression towards the future.”
That being said, Bradley will miss Sunday’s game against the Mavericks and the entirety of the team’s upcoming three-game road trip against the Nugget, Jazz and Trail Blazers.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Alex Caruso Pick Up Slack
Bradley has gained a reputation for his stellar defense, but Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Alex Caruso have picked up the slack in his absence.
Vogel has been particularly impressed with Caruso, who leads the team with a defensive rating of 96.3.
“Caruso is a star defender,” Vogel told reporters Sunday. “I think he’s elite. When you study him on tape, or just watch him in summer workouts, you see he has pretty good feet and good length. But there are a lot of 6-foot-5 defenders that you think should be great defenders. But Alex is. He has great instincts, and that’s the biggest thing with him.
“It’s not always just about physical ability. It’s about IQ. It’s about activity. Hands. Containment ability. Willingness to take charges. The ability to mix it up and get on the boards and rebound the basketball. He does all those things at a very high level.”
Kyle Kuzma Questionable Against Mavericks
A surprising addition to the injury report was forward Kyle Kuzma, who is questionable to face the Mavericks with an ankle sprain. He didn’t practice on Saturday.
X-rays on his ankle returned negative, according to Frank Vogel. Kuzma hurt the ankle against the Wizards and tried to play through it before retreating to the locker room.
Kuzma also missed some time to start the season with a stress reaction in his ankle. He is averaging just over 22 minutes per game off the bench, notching 11.7 points and 3.6 rebounds per game. Kuzma recently spoke on adapting to his new role coming off the bench.
“That’s just part of sacrifice and trying to be on a winning team,” he said. “Obviously, it’s hard sometimes when you’re a young player wanting to continue to establish yourself and see you measure up across the league. In certain situations, you have the opportunities to just play. It’s hard sometimes — naturally.
“But I’ve got good vets around me, keep things in perspective. I have an opportunity to win a ring in my third year. Sometimes, I just have to catch myself, realize.”
The Lakers are a six-point favorite for the matchup with the Mavericks.