After suffering a mild ankle sprain against the Washington Wizards on Friday, Kyle Kuzma did not practice with the Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday, the team announced. Kuzma is listed questionable to play when the Lakers host the Dallas Mavericks at Staples Center on Sunday.
If Kuzma is ruled out for Sunday’s matchup against the Mavericks, it will be the fifth game he’s missed since the start of the regular season. Kuzma missed the first four games of the regular season (and the entirety of the preseason) with a stress reaction in his left foot he suffered in August. Kuzma suffered an eye abrasion earlier this month, but he didn’t miss any time because of it.
If Kuzma can’t go on Sunday, expect LeBron James to be the primary backup power forward to Anthony Davis with Jared Dudley playing spot minutes. Kuzma’s absence might also force Vogel to keep Davis at power forward and play JaVale McGee and Dwight Howard all 48 minutes at the center spot, which could be a hinderance against the Mavericks’ floor-spacing big men. Kristaps Porzingis, Maxi Kleber and Dwight Powell don’t make their 3-pointers at an especially high rate, but they’re not afraid to take them, which spaces out the opposing defense. If Davis doesn’t spend any time at center, that’s a matchup they’re going to exploit.
Lastly, Kuzma’s absence would give the Lakers one less big body to throw on Luka Doncic. Better defenders than Kuzma have tried to slow down Doncic and failed, but he’s more more mobile than some of the other options the Lakers have outside of Davis, James and Danny Green. For the Lakers’ sake, let’s hope that’s enough.
Kuzma’s availability will be updated closer to tip-off at 1 p.m.