We already knew that Rajon Rondo would be out as the Los Angeles Lakers get set to take on the Chicago Bulls on Tuesday night to wrap up their first road trip of the season, but after initially being declared questionable, head coach Frank Vogel told reporters at shootaround that Avery Bradley was being ruled out for the game, and that Kentavious Caldwell-Pope will start in his place (via Mike Bresnahan of Spectrum Sportsnet):
Rajon Rondo (calf) and Avery Bradley (bruised lower leg) will not play tonight vs. Chicago, Frank Vogel said.— Mike Bresnahan (@Mike_Bresnahan) November 5, 2019
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope will start in Bradley’s place.
This will be the Lakers’ first time changing their starters in the regular season this year, but while it’s clear many fans of the team feel a certain way about KCP, outside of a few notable bloopers and getting destroyed by Kawhi Leonard on opening night — which was honestly not a fair situation to put him in and expect success in the first place — Caldwell-Pope has actually been a fairly reliable contributor for the team this year.
The Lakers have been 8.8 points per 100 possessions better when Caldwell-Pope is on the floor this year vs. when he sits, according to NBA.com, so while KCP’s shot has been off (he’s only making 26.7% of his threes so far this year) he’s still been mostly finding ways to contribute for this team, including with a few clutch baskets against the San Antonio Spurs to turn the game around in Los Angeles’ most recent win.
And while Bradley has been better on defense to be sure, this doesn’t fundamentally change a ton about how the Lakers’ starters want to play. LeBron James will still be the point guard, and Caldwell-Pope will likely spend his time chasing the Bulls’ floor generals of choice around. Bradley being out is a loss, but against this specific opponent the Lakers should be able to weather this minor storm.
We’ll get our first look at if Caldwell-Pope can continue his recent effectiveness when the Lakers and Bulls tip off at 5:00 p.m. PST in the United Center tonight. For those that want to watch the new starters make their debut, the game will be televised locally on Spectrum Sportsnet and nationally on NBA TV.
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