Kentavious Caldwell-Pope left the Lakers’ Thursday night win over the Phoenix Suns with what the team called a “quad contusion” at the time, and after undergoing an MRI, it sounds like no structural damage was done when Devin Booker inadvertently collided with his leg, according to multiple reports:
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope's bruised left quad showed slight improvement since Gm 3 and an MRI administered Friday revealed no tear, sources told ESPN. The Lakers guard will see how he responds to rest and treatment come Saturday and his status will be determined for Sunday's Gm 4— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) May 28, 2021
Sources confirmed that KCP MRI for left quad contusion was all good and clean.— Brad Turner (@BA_Turner) May 28, 2021
That’s certainly great news for the Lakers, considering the alternative, but it remains to be seen how serious this injury will actually be, and if it will cause any issues for Caldwell-Pope as the 2021 NBA playoffs continue. We just can’t know for certain one way or the other right now, and won’t speculate.
Before this injury, Caldwell-Pope was going through an absolutely brutal shooting slump for the first three games of the first round against the Suns. The Lakers’ starting shooting guard has shot just 4-14 from the field and an abysmal 1-13 from 3-point range so far in the postseason.
But even so, Caldwell-Pope has been valuable. He’s shown enough effectiveness defensively that he has the third-best net rating of any Lakers player in this series, (+9.3), and the team has been outscored by 11.1 points per 100 possessions while he’s on the bench, according to NBA.com. The only Laker with a bigger on-off swing is LeBron (the Lakers are an almost unbelievable 44.4 points per 100 possessions better with LeBron on the floor than they are with him off so far in this series).
Long story short: If Caldwell-Pope is limited or forced to miss any time, the Lakers will miss his presence on the floor. If that happens, however, expect veteran reserve Wesley Matthews to see a bump in minutes, with an outside chance of Talen Horton-Tucker or Ben McLemore making their way into the playoff rotation.
This developing story may be updated with more information.