The team declared Sunday that Kuzma will miss opening night versus the Los Angeles Clippers. A statement from the Lakers that came earlier this month disclosed that Kuzma was still not cleared to take the floor after the left foot injury he sustained during his time with USA Basketball.
“There’s still progression to be had,” said Vogel. “He was very limited with what he did today, and it was all non-contact in limited duration. It’s going to take some time for him to get his legs under him and build up to the point where he’s playing live with contact, and then some time where we want to see him perform in that and respond well to that before we clear him to play.”
Kuzma played in just one exhibition game in late August with Team USA before sitting out the remainder of the summer in order to heal.
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The lingering nature of the injury isn’t ideal for the Lakers, who are entering their first season with Frank Vogel as head coach and obtaining Davis — and making a plethora of other moves over the offseason — and they expect Kuzma, 24, to play a major role in their success this season. Thus, they would obviously like to have him healthy and out on the floor during camp to gain familiarity with the system and his new teammates.
Kuzma averaged 18.7 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists in 33.1 minutes of action per game for the Lakers last season.
The Clippers will be without superstar forward Paul George as well, making opening night an unusual battle of attrition. Kuzma is in his third NBA season after being drafted out of Utah in 2017. The Lakers declined to trade him this summer when they acquired Anthony Davis from New Orleans, and Kuzma is now the only player drafted by the Lakers before 2019 to remain on the team.
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