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, who might be slightly hampered to start the season as the ankle injury he suffered while participating as a member of Team USA over the summer is lingering longer than initially expected.
Kuzma played in just one exhibition game in late August with Team USA before sitting out the remainder of the 2019 FIBA World Cup in order to heal, and now the Lakers are worried that he might not be ready for the start of their training camp this weekend as his left foot continues to heal, according to Marc Stein of the New York Times.
“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 ankle injury. Kuzma’s status will certainly be something to monitor as the season draws nearer.