Kyle Kuzma has missed the entirety of the preseason with a stress reaction he suffered while he was with Team USA in August. While Kuzma has been cleared for non-contact practice, it doesnt sound like hell be making his return for the Los Angeles Lakers within the week.
Not only will Kuzma sit out of Fridays game against the Golden State Warriors, but Lakers head coach Frank Vogel told reporters after practice on Thursday that its probably unlikely that Kuzma will participate in the teams full-contact practice on Sunday, putting him in doubt for Tuesdays regular opener against the LA Clippers, because the Lakers generally want to see a player do at least one practice with contact before throwing them into a game.
Vogel said that the Lakers might have a late practice on Monday with some contact, but if Kuzma is not cleared for contact on Sunday, its safe to assume he wont be ready to play on Tuesday. If Kuzma does miss the Lakers regular season opener, Vogel said that the team has full-contact practice scheduled on Wednesday and Thursday.
Until Kuzma gets the green light from the medical staff to resume full-contact basketball activities, hell continue to work with Lakers assistant coach Phil Handy. Vogel said Kuzma has been able to increase his workload and intensity, he just hasnt been able to go up against anyone yet:
Hes gone above and beyond what I call the Paul George workouts. When Paul was out with a broken leg all year and he did a lot of ballhandling in a chair. Stationary shooting. Shooting in a chair. Kyle has done a ton of that over the last six weeks or so. And now that hes able to move like an NBA basketball player, its really focused on just the normal skill work.
Heres a look at some of the things Kuzma has been doing before games and at practice:
Here is some video of what Kyle Kuzma is doing pregame. He may not be playing, but he is still working hard with assistant coach Phil Handy pic.twitter.com/0fnBdxKWaxTV's Harrison Faigen (@hmfaigen) October 17, 2019
With a five-game sample size, theres a clear need for someone that can create their own shot and make plays for others in the Lakers second unit. While ideally Andre Iguodala would be the guy for Los Angeles, Kuzma is a viable option too.
That being said, the Lakers are expected to be in a good enough position to make it through the first few weeks of the regular season without Kuzma if they have to, with Anthony Davis, LeBron James and Jared Dudley at Vogels disposal.
As much as Kuzma would help the Lakers, its better to have him sidelined for a week or two as opposed to months with a potentially worse injury to his foot if hes rushed back too early. Patience is the sensible approach here.