The Los Angeles Lakers might not start their regular season for another month, but their luck with injuries, or lack thereof, is already in midseason form. Fresh off of the news that Kyle Kuzma will be sidelined until at least Oct. 13 with a foot injury, the team announced that two of their rookies, Talen Horton-Tucker and Jordan Caroline, will miss some time with foot injuries of their own.
Caroline underwent surgery on his left foot to repair the fifth metatarsal and will miss the next 10-12 weeks. Caroline signed a training camp deal with the Lakers in July.
Even before the Lakers signed Dwight Howard, it was doubtful that Caroline — an undrafted forward out of the University of Nevada — was going to make the final, 15-man roster. Now, with an injury that could keep him sidelined until December, it’s a near certainty that Caroline will be one of the first cuts made in training camp.
However, the Lakers can still keep Caroline close to the organization by signing him to their G League affiliate, the South Bay Lakers. If Caroline agrees to a deal with South Bay, he can earn up to $50,000 more than any other team can offer him, as per the terms of his Exhibit 10 contract.
Barring any long-term red flags with his health, expect that to be the route Caroline and the Lakers go.
As for Horton-Tucker, the No. 46 pick in this year’s draft, he is still recovering from a stress reaction in his right foot. Horton-Tucker missed all of summer league with the same injury.
Unlike Caroline, Horton-Tucker and his fully-guaranteed $898,310 contract are expected to be on the regular season roster, however, he’s not expected to any meaningful playing time with the Lakers during his rookie season. When Horton-Tucker is cleared to play, he’ll almost certainly get his reps with South Bay with Caroline.
Ultimately, the injuries to Caroline and Horton-Tucker won’t have any effect on the Lakers’ postseason ambition, but this early trend on injuries isn’t an encouraging sign. Hopefully the team is as close as they can get to fully healthy for the majority of the season.