Following an injury-riddled season, the Los Angeles Lakers' 2019-20 NBA campaign is off to a bad start with the latest update regarding Kyle Kuzma's injury. The 24-year-old sustained an injury while playing for Team USA in an exhibition game, which led to his release from the final roster of the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup.
Although he had been expected to be ready prior to the upcoming NBA season, it appears that Kuzma will be sidelined for an extended period. It's been confirmed that he will miss the Lakers' training camp and preseason games, as he continues to rehab his ankle. Marc Stein of The New York Times was first to report an update via Twitter on Tuesday, which was later confirmed by team officials.
"Kyle Kuzma is progressing with his rehabilitation from an injury (stress reaction, left foot) that occurred while he was with USA Basketball. He has not been cleared for full practice or game participation. He is scheduled for an MRI when the team returns from China, and a status update will be given at that time," as per an official statement from the Lakers.
Kuzma appeared in 70 games last year, averaging 18.7 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 2.5 steals in 33.1 minutes of play. As one of the most important pieces of the current roster, Kuzma's absence will be definitely felt for the newly assembled Lakers. He was set to have an even bigger role with the departure of many players in the Anthony Davis trade, but Kuzma will have to wait until he is completely cleared by the medical team.As previously reported by The Inquisitr, the Lakers viewed Kuzma as an "indispensable" player and refused to part ways with him during their negotiations with the New Orlean Pelicans. Lakers legend Kobe Bryant also agreed with the team's assessment, crediting Kuzma for his versatility as a player on both ends of the floor.
There are high expectations for the Lakers, as they hope to get Kuzma back as soon as possible since the competition has gotten very stiff in the Western Conference. The Denver Nuggets and Utah Jazz will likely only build on their successful campaigns last season, while the Houston Rockets and Los Angeles Clippers made big moves in the summer.
The duo of Davis and LeBron James should be good enough to bring the Lakers back to the playoffs, although they can't afford to have too many injuries like last year. It's possible that the team is playing it safe with Kuzma's injury in order to have him back for the season opener against the Clippers on October 22.