If Kyle Kuzma continues to progress at the rate he’s currently progressing, he’s expected to make his regular season debut for the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday, when the team visits the Dallas Mavericks. However, fans shouldn’t expect Kuzma to come in and play the 33 minutes he averaged per game last season upon his return.
According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, Kuzma will be on a minutes restriction when he’s cleared to play:
“I’m told the Lakers will ease him back into the lineup and gradually bring him along. Don’t expect him to play more than 15-20 minutes to start in his return.”
Lakers head coach Frank Vogel pretty much confirmed Charania’s report after practice on Thursday, but he didn’t definitively say Kuzma will play on Friday:
Vogel on Kuz: “He did all of practice today. We’ll see how he responds tomorrow morning ... if he feels good, we’ll throw him in (against Dallas). He’d likely be on a 15-20 minute restriction.”— Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) October 31, 2019
Whether Kuzma returns on Friday or Sunday, it makes sense that the coaching and training staff is going to have him on a minutes restriction.
Kuzma hasn’t played five-on-five at full-speed since August, so it could take him a little while to get back into game shape. Additionally, stress reactions are a tricky injury that can easily flare up again if Kuzma does too much too soon.
It’s possible that Kuzma plays a few more minutes if he looks comfortable and has his wind in his return, but Vogel has already said he’s not going to force anyone to play more than they’re willing to this early in the season. If Kuzma needs time, the Lakers have plenty of it, with a 3-1 record and two superstars in LeBron James and Anthony Davis to carry the team.
We’ll know more about Kuzma’s status closer to tip-off on Friday.