Los Angeles Lakers guard Alex Caruso was scratched from the team’s first scrimmage against the Dallas Mavericks. A minor back contusion held him out, and the Lakers proceeded to lose 108-104 in their first game in over four months.
The Lakers had solid offensive performances all around — including from JR Smith and Dion Waiters — but could have used Caruso on defense, with Seth Curry shooting the lights out. Lakers head coach Frank Vogel has made it clear the team is being extra cautious during the scrimmages and eight seeding games.
With the team’s standing in the Western Conference all but officially decided, there would be no reason to force Caruso to play, even with the most minor of injuries. Besides, Caruso sitting gives players like Smith, Waiters, and Talen Horton-Tucker some legitimate playing time.
Nonetheless, Caruso’s injury is considered minor and he presumably will be back in the lineup before the seeding games begin, according to Mike Trudell of the Lakers:
The contusion is considered minor, and Caruso is day-to-day moving forward. https://t.co/5k7YflRoHp
— Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) July 23, 2020
It would obviously be better for the Lakers to have Caruso back in the lineup, as they would like to have some minutes with the lineups they’ll use most in the playoffs. However, there’s no use in rushing his back injury, and the Lakers will undoubtedly wait until he’s 100% before allowing him to play.
The Lakers’ next scrimmage takes place on Saturday morning against the Orlando Magic at 9 a.m. PT. Given the quick turnaround time, it would be unsurprising if the Lakers sat Caruso again. Their third and final scrimmage is Monday against the Washington Wizards, and that seems like a more realistic return day.
Until the playoffs begin on Aug. 17, expect the Lakers to practice an extreme level of caution as they ease everyone back into full speed.
Caruso to see a bump in minutes with Rajon Rondo out
While Caruso’s injury is only day-to-day, Lakers guard Rondo figures to be out for at least another five weeks as he rehabs from surgery to repair fractured right thumb.
In the meantime, Caruso should be one of the players who sees an uptick in minutes. While Caruso does not excel as a ball-handler, he has enough talent in this role to make it work. He and Quinn Cook will likely be the biggest beneficiaries of Rondo’s absence, but Caruso’s defensive prowess absolutely makes him more vital.
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