Earlier in the week, word broke that Los Angeles Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma was battling a “stress injury” in his leg that would reportedly keep him out of the start of training camp. On Thursday evening, that became official, with the Lakers announcing that Kuzma has a stress reaction in his left foot.
The announcement from the Lakers indicates that Kuzma is “progressing with his rehabilitation” after suffering the injury during his stint with USA Basketball. However, the 24-year-old has “not been cleared for full practice or game participation,” with an MRI on the horizon when the Lakers return from a preseason trip to China.
Los Angeles will be taking the floor against the Brooklyn Nets in China on Oct. 10 and Oct. 12, seemingly leaving at least two weeks without any further update on Kuzma’s status. The Lakers don’t open the regular season until Oct. 22 against the L.A. Clippers but, considering Kuzma will not be participating in training camp activities, his status for the opener is now very much in question.
The 6’9 forward enjoyed something of a breakout season in 2018-19, averaging 18.7 points (despite shooting 30.3 percent from three-point range) and 5.5 rebounds per game in a supporting role. While he projects as no better than the team’s No. 3 option at full strength, expectations are high for Kuzma and this delayed kick-off is less than optimal.
In the big picture, the Lakers have goals that focus much more on April, May, and June than they do on October. In the same breath, Kuzma is a key cog alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis and, at the very least, he’ll be getting a late start as the team seeks to get on the same page as soon as possible.