When the Los Angeles Lakers take on the LA Clippers at Staples Center on Tuesday, they’ll be without Kyle Kuzma, who is still making his way back from a stress reaction he suffered while competitions for a spot on Team USA’s FIBA Basketball World Cup roster in August.
While there is still no timetable for Kuzma’s return, Lakers head coach Frank Vogel told reporters after practice on Sunday that he’s already thought about how having Kuzma back will affect his rotation, including Anthony Davis’s minutes at center:
“He’s probably our third-best player, so you add him to the mix, we can go in a lot of different directions. It probably gets more enticing to play Anthony at the 5 with Kuz out there and LeBron and a couple of guards.”
However, Vogel also noted that the Lakers have had success with their center tandem of JaVale McGee and Dwight Howard so far: “I’m going to have what they like to call ‘good problems’ when [Kuzma’s] back to full activity.”
Kuzma will have the opportunity to get a full-contact practice in on Wednesday and Thursday, according to Vogel. If all goes well during that time, Kuzma could make his regular season debut as soon as Friday, when the Lakers are scheduled to take on the Utah Jazz. If not, he’ll get another chance on Sunday against the Charlotte Hornets. Both games will be at Staples Center.
Kuzma is an imperfect player, sure, but he would give the Lakers another weapon to play off of LeBron James and Davis offensively. Additionally, he’s the type of player Vogel should want on the court when James and Davis are getting rest because of his ability to make plays for others, create his own shot and play off of the ball.
There’s no rush to get Kuzma back on the floor, but it’s exciting to think about what he will bring to the Lakers when he’s healthy. Hopefully that day comes sooner rather than later.