Lakers guard Avery Bradley has a hairline fracture in a non-weight-bearing bone in his right leg, an MRI exam performed Thursday night confirmed.
The Lakers announced that the injury was on the fibular head of Bradley’s leg and that he will be reevaluated in one to two weeks.
“We have the No. 1 defense in the league in large part because of him and the tone that he sets,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel said before the Lakers (9-2) were to host the Sacramento Kings on Friday. “So he’ll be missed.”
The Lakers, who have the best record in the Western Conference and are just a half-game behind the league-leading Boston Celtics, lead the NBA in defensive rating, allowing 99.5 points per 100 possessions.
Bradley sustained the injury against San Antonio and missed the Lakers’ next game against the Chicago Bulls, when the Lakers, then tied for what was their most points allowed in a game, pulled out a 118-112 win. Vogel said Bradley, who reprised his starting role in the next four games, was playing through “pretty significant pain.”
Bradley has been in the starting lineup for every game in which he has played.
“Next man up,” Lakers forward LeBron James said. “That’s what our depth is all about.”
Guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope started in Bradley’s place against the Bulls last week, scoring eight points with one assist, one steal and two turnovers. Caldwell-Pope turned his ankle late in the Lakers’ win over the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday and is available for Friday, but Vogel did not say whether the 26-year-old would be the first choice to start for Bradley.
Point guard Rajon Rondo is on a 20-minute restriction as he continues to recover from a calf injury.
While Bradley is celebrated for his defensive prowess, Vogel said the ability to defend the opposing team’s point guard is “a factor but it’s not the only factor” in determining a temporary replacement.
“We have a lot of ways we can go with this,” Vogel said, “and while I love what we’re doing on the defensive end, it’s a two-sided game. And we’ll make the decision accordingly.”
The Lakers signed Bradley during free agency this year, and he had hoped to have better luck with injuries than he had in past seasons. Bradley has played in only 55, 46 and 63 games the last three seasons because of injuries, including abdominal surgery in 2018 and shoulder surgery in 2012.
Anthony Davis (ribs/shoulder) said he expects to play Friday depending on how the forward feels after pregame warmups. Davis, who has dealt with a lingering shoulder injury for most of the season, said the ribs are the more painful of the two ailments. He sustained the injury in a collision Tuesday during a game against the Phoenix Suns.