The Los Angeles Lakers are already without Isaiah Thomas and Lonzo Ball, and according to Bruno Manrique of Clutch Points, the Lakers may shut down Kyle Kuzma for the remainder of the season. While it’s a tough blow, it’s the best solution.
Kuzma has been dealing with ankle injuries since college and after suffering another one Friday night against the Minnesota Timberwolves, there’s no better time than right now. Before going down, Kuzma scored just two points after hitting 1 of 6 shots. This is what Kuzma had to say following the game about his injury.
“I tried to move and push around [on the left ankle in the third quarter] but it is kind of hard to move around on two flat tires.”
On a season where Kuzma is being labeled as the steal of the 2017 NBA Draft, the rookie has carved out a bright future with the Lakers. During the year, Kuzma is averaging 16.1 points and 6.3 rebounds while shooting 45 percent from the field, including 36 percent from three-point territory.
With the Lakers set to hit the free agency period strong this offseason, Kuzma will be a valuable piece of the Lakers moving forward. With just three games left in the Lakers’ season, is there really any need to risk further damage to his ankle? When asked about his availability for the rest of the season, Kuzma had this to say to the media.
“My body feels great. At the end of the day, it is just my ankles. I can’t tell you anything right now [about playing in the final three games]… [this latest ankle injury is] just really throbbing. [It’s] a little different than my last one. My last one was an inside sprain. This is an outside sprain.”
With the Lakers having nothing to play for in their remaining games, shutting down Kuzma would be the logical choice. The Lakers already know they have a stud on their hands heading into the 2018 season.
The Lakers will finish out the season with games against the Utah Jazz, Houston Rockets, and Los Angeles Clippers. Sitting at 34-45, the Lakers will finish the year with the 11th best record in the Western Conference. This is the perfect time for the Lakers to evaluate what they have with Julius Randle, Brook Lopez, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. While all three are free agents at the end of the season, the Lakers will have a tough decision on their hands when it comes to re-signing them.
With Ball, Thomas, and now Kuzma out, Randle and Pope will be looked upon to carry the load for the remaining three games and increase their value heading into the offseason.