Frank Vogel Reveals New Lakers Starter in Backcourt

Getty Kyle Kuzma, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers.

The Los Angeles Lakers have some production to make up for in the backcourt in the absence of both Avery Bradley and Rajon Rondo, but head coach Frank Vogel is certain his squad can handle it.

Bradley, who started 44 games this year, opted to stay home for the NBA restart, tending to his family during the uncertain times. It was announced on Sunday that Rondo had suffered a fractured thumb that will keep him off the court for six to eight weeks. Vogel spoke on the injury to Rondo for the first time on Monday.

“Losing Rajon is a huge loss for our team. But we expect Rajon to be part of our playoff run,” Vogel said, per Bill Oram of The Athletic. “We’re very confident he’ll be able to get back and be a major factor for us.”


The timeframe for Rondo has his coming back around the second round of the playoffs, where the Lakers firmly expect to be considering they are the title favorites in Orlando. Vogel also confirmed that Rondo will leave the bubble to have surgery and for some rehab.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope Is Starter — For Now

Vogel revealed that he views Kentavious Caldwell-Pope as the starter with Bradley out, and he’ll likely pick up ever more minutes than expected in the rotation in the absence of Rondo. KCP did not miss a game this season and the Lakers went 17-3 when he was inserted into the starting lineup while Bradley was injured. Caldwell-Pope averaged 25.4 minutes per game, netting 9.5 points and shooting just under 40 percent from 3-point land.

That being said, Vogel made sure to note that it will be an open competition and things could change.

“We’ll always have an open competition,” Vogel said of the starting lineup. “Kentavious Caldwell-Pope did a phenomenal job when Avery was injured early in the season. That’s really where I’m at in terms of what the starting lineup is going to look like with him being in that slot.

“Obviously, seeing how things go throughout practice and other guys will have opportunities.”

Alex Caruso and Quinn Cook could be other candidates to start, while veteran Dion Waiters and JR Smith are very long shots. It could also mean more ball-handling opportunities for Kyle Kuzma with the second-unit.

“I can do that, but that’s a decision for the coaches,” Kuzma told reporters on Monday, per Ryan Ward of Clutch Points.

Vogel stressed that the Lakers have options to replace the production of Rondo and Bradley and it will be a full team effort.

“More will be needed from Alex and Quinn Cook. we have the ability to use our bigs, with Kuz and in particular AD, who have the ability to bring the ball up and initiate offense. But I also like the prospects of seeing what Dion Waiters can do,” Vogel said. “We have two really good basketball players that we added late in our season that do different things. Equally as important is JR being able to shoot from the perimeter. He’ll be a big time catch-and-shoot player and Dion with the ability to make plays off the bounce. Losing Rondo puts more of a need on Dion’s skill set. I look forward to seeing what he can do more as we get into games, but all of those guys will pick up the slack.”

Lakers Showed Up for Restart in Pretty Good Shape

There’s a lot of missed time to make up for, but Vogel was happy with the shape the Lakers players showed up in for the NBA restart. The team will have some scrimmages inside of the bubble before the games count, starting July 30.

“The takeaways were that guys, overall, are in pretty good shape,” Vogel said in a recent press conference. “I’m not displeased with anyone in that regard, that worked yesterday. We have a lot time to get guys ready.”

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Lakers star Anthony Davis agreed, but added that the team needs some time to build their chemistry, especially with their new pieces.

“I think it’s just getting our chemistry again,” Davis told reporters. “We had a couple of months off and we’re on a great road, getting Dion and JR adjusted to our team and to our team, and building that chemistry now that we don’t have guys here.”

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