The Los Angeles Lakers got some good news on Avery Bradley on Thursday, as head coach Frank Vogel says the team’s most frequent starter at shooting guard had avoided surgery for the UCL sprain the team discovered on an MRI earlier this week.
“Avery got further evaluation,” Vogel said at Thursday’s practice. “He is not going to need surgery, so that is really positive news for us. He’s going to be available, but will play in a splint if we use him. I haven’t decided if I’m going to give him some further time to let it heal up some more. We’ll make that decision tomorrow, but he will not need surgery.”
That is great news for Bradley more than anyone, as an injury to the UCL, a ligament in the thumb, can lead to a lengthy recovery period if it requires surgery to repair. Talen Horton-Tucker was originally given a four-week reevaluation timeline after suffering the same injury this year and needing to get surgery, and Bam Adebayo is expected to miss 4-6 weeks after undergoing his own UCL surgery on Wednesday.
Considering that Bradley is currently on a non-guaranteed contract — the only player on the team on such a deal — and would have to be cut by Jan. 7 to avoid his contract becoming fully guaranteed on Jan. 10, missing extended time could have been a death blow to his chances to remain on this roster for the rest of the year.
Prior to missing Tuesday’s game against the Kings with the injury, Bradley had started the last 16 games for the Lakers. His averages — 5 points per game on 34.9% shooting from three — aren’t mind-blowing, but Lakers head coach Frank Vogel said that those stats and other analytics can’t properly capture the “infectious” energy and intensity Bradley gives those groups, calling him “one of our best containment” guys on Tuesday, and saying it would “hurt” to miss him for as long as he was out with this injury.
Still, between the recently surging Malik Monk, Wayne Ellington, Austin Reaves and Kent Bazemore, the Lakers have plenty of options to play alongside Russell Westbrook at the 2 in Bradley’s stead if they decide to give Bradley a game or two off to more fully recover. But more depth is never a bad thing, and so Bradley avoiding an extended stay on a Lakers injury report that has been far too long, far too often this season certainly qualifies as good news for a team that could use any they can get.