After he sat out with ankle soreness against Australia, USA Basketball and Kyle Kuzma have decided to play things safe with the Los Angeles Lakers forward, and Kuzma will return home to focus on his health as the rest of the team continues on in the tournament.
Marc Stein of the New York Times was the first on the news:
USA Basketball announces that Kyle Kuzma's ankle injury will rule him out of the @FIBAWC and the roster is now set— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) August 24, 2019
This was always sort of the logical path for Kuzma and the team to take. As was written here last night in the wake of Kuzma sitting out against Australia, the Lakers have a long season ahead, and is doesn’t make sense for Kuzma to risk his potential health and availability for what everyone in Los Angeles hopes is a long playoff run, no matter how much he wanted to represent his country.
But even if this is the smart choice for Kuzma, it doesn’t make it any less disappointing (likely for him as well). It would have been great experience for the forward entering his third season to play internationally under one of the best coaching staffs in the world, an invaluable opportunity to work on his game at a high level in August.
Still, as nice as that would have been, the risk-reward calculus on such a decision wasn’t great as soon as Kuzma dinged up his ankle. Improvement is wonderful, but risking injury before a season in which the NBA is as wide open as ever wouldn’t have been wise, so this is still the right call.
Who knows if Kuzma will get another chance to done the red, white and blue, but at least we can all remember that he got to make an impressive impression during his last game in it.