While Kuzma’s presence wouldn’t have fixed all of the Lakers’ problems, he would have helped the team during the stretches that LeBron James and Anthony Davis weren’t on the floor together. The one lineup that didn’t feature either James or Davis posted a -250 net rating in the one minute they played together.
Fortunately, Kuzma is getting closer to ramping up his workload and doing non-contact work, according to Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN:
Kyle Kuzma is progressing well in non-contact skeleton work and is getting closer to possible contact work in the next week or so barring any unforeseen setbacks.
Kuzma was working out with Lakers assistant coach Phil Handy before the Lakers tipped off against the Clippers on Tuesday and he looked pretty mobile:
No Kyle Kuzma (foot) tonight but he's doing work with Phil Handy pic.twitter.com/xbmli30pda— ESPN Los Angeles (@ESPNLosAngeles) October 23, 2019
Kuzma has been sidelined since August with a stress reaction in his left foot.
Kuzma’s next opportunity to get some contact work done will come when the Lakers practice on Wednesday. However, even if he does do contact drills on Wednesday and Thursday, there’s little reason to believe he’ll play on Friday against the Utah Jazz.
After practice on Sunday, head coach Frank Vogel talked about the steps Kuzma needs to go through before returning to the court, and it doesn’t sound like something that can be done in just two days:
“Obviously there’s a progression. He’s at no-contact half court now. I’m sure we’ll build it to no-contact full court with sprinting and potentially half court with contact. I’m not sure which direction they’re going to take it next, but there will be a progression this week, building him up.”
It’s far more likely that Kuzma on Tuesday, when the Lakers will take on the Dallas Mavericks at home. Coincidentally, Kuzma made his return from injury against the Mavericks last season.
There’s no real reason to rush Kuzma back just a few games into the regular season, but with the six games in the preseason and Tuesday night’s game as a sample size, it’s clear how much he could help the team. Hopefully Vogel has good news to share on Wednesday.