Los Angeles Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma is entering an extremely important season, as the organization is expecting him to take a big step forward and fill the role of third option behind superstars LeBron James and Anthony Davis. This is an enormous opportunity for Kuzma, but it hasn’t gotten off to a great start. According to a statement from the Lakers, Kuzma will be out until at least mid-October with a left foot injury he sustained during his time with USA Basketball. From the Lakers:
“Kuzma is progressing with his rehabilitation from an injury (stress reaction, left foot) that occurred while he was with USA Basketball. He has not been cleared for full practice or game participation. He is scheduled for an MRI when the team returns from China, and a status update will be given at that time.”
The Lakers’ last preseason game in China is on Oct. 12, so that means Kuzma should get his MRI within the following couple of days. Even if he is cleared to practice at that time, that gives him fewer than 10 days to get in game shape before the Lakers’ opener against the Clippers on Oct. 22. Therefore it’s safe to say that Kuzma missing the start of the regular season is a real possibility.
Kuzma played in just one exhibition game in late August with Team USA before sitting out the remainder of the summer in order to heal.
“Bummer [I] couldn’t finish my time with [USA Basketball] but that team will be just fine,” Kuzma wrote at the time. “Excited to get healthy and back to L.A. and get ready for the real show get ready!”
The lingering nature of the injury isn’t ideal for the Lakers, who are entering their first training camp since naming Frank Vogel as head coach and acquiring Davis — and making a plethora of other moves over the offseason — and they expect Kuzma, 24, to play a major role in their success this season. Thus, they would obviously like to have him healthy and out on the floor during camp to gain familiarity with the system and his new teammates.
Kuzma averaged 18.7 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists in 33.1 minutes of action per game for the Lakers last season.
While the Lakers obviously prefer Kuzma out on the floor during training camp, they ultimately want him to be fully healthy by the time the regular season rolls around next month, so it’s not especially surprising that they would be cautious with him as he continues to bounce back from the foot injury. Kuzma’s status will certainly be something to monitor as the season draws nearer.