After the Los Angeles Lakers finished shootaround on Tuesday morning, head coach Frank Vogel revealed that Kyle Kuzma would be traveling with the team on their upcoming road trip, and had progressed enough that there’s a possibility he could play in any of the three games on it.
According to Shams Charania of Stadium, Kuzma may be even closer than Vogel made it sound, as his sources are saying that Kuzma is apparently doing well enough to have specific return dates in mind:
“I’m told Kyle Kuzma is essentially 100% healthy right now. He’s got to work his way back into game shape, that’s the only hiccup right now. Just working himself back into game shape and his routine. I’m told he’s targeting either Dallas on Friday, or San Antonio on Sunday for his season debut.”
If accurate — and Charania’s reports are generally about as accurate as they come — this means that Kuzma is already basically good to go, and the team just wants to make sure he is good to truly contribute before throwing him out there. That’s the smart play here, as it both limits the possibility of re-injury as much as possible and makes it more of a certainty that Kuzma will be able to help once he gets back on the floor.
The Lakers have all the luxury in the world to exercise caution right now, too. Things may feel differently if they lose to the Memphis Grizzlies tonight, but currently the Lakers are 2-1 and seem to be rolling, so they might as well ensure that Kuzma is ready to help them gain more momentum rather than struggling a bit as he tries to catch his wind. Some adjustment period is inevitable, as nothing prepares a player for NBA minutes like NBA minutes, but it sounds like Kuzma and the Lakers want him to be as close as he can before he makes that final step in his recovery.
Kuzma isn’t a point guard, but he can help the Lakers’ ballhandling woes by giving Vogel another guy who can create his own shot while also spacing the floor. He also helps paper over the team’s size deficit on the wing behind LeBron James, and could give any lineups that don’t have James or Anthony Davis some scoring punch to help steal some more rest for those two stars.
Kuzma still has to get back on the court and prove this theoretical impact is real, obviously, but it’s promising that it sounds like he’s just about ready to do so.
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