Lakers News: Kyle Kuzma Injury Update, Possible Starting Lineups and More

Nate Loop@Nate_LoopFeatured ColumnistOctober 21, 2019

SHENZHEN, CHINA - OCTOBER 12: #0 Kyle Kuzma of the Los Angeles Lakers looks on before the match against the Brooklyn Nets during a preseason game as part of 2019 NBA Global Games China at Shenzhen Universiade Center on October 12, 2019 in Shenzhen, Guangdong, China. (Photo by Zhong Zhi/Getty Images)
Zhong Zhi/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Lakers will begin their 2019-20 season on Tuesday without one of their key players.

Head coach Frank Vogel announced Sunday that Kyle Kuzma is still recovering from a stress reaction in his foot and will miss the blockbuster matchup against the Los Angeles Clippers, per ESPN.com's Dave McMenamin

Kuzma has been sidelined for about two months with the foot injury, but he returned to non-contact practice this week.

It's been a frustrating development for the 24-year-old forward, who averaged 18.7 points and 5.5 rebounds per game last season.

He is one of the few young holdovers from last season. The Lakers shipped several of their budding talents (and then some) to the New Orleans Pelicans in order to land superstar Anthony Davis, who is expected to form one of the NBA's most potent partnerships with LeBron James.

SHENZHEN, CHINA - OCTOBER 12: #0 Kyle Kuzma of the Los Angeles Lakers warms up before the match against the Brooklyn Nets during a preseason game as part of 2019 NBA Global Games China at Shenzhen Universiade Center on October 12, 2019 in Shenzhen, Guangd
Zhong Zhi/Getty Images

Kuzma was deemed worth keeping, and he will likely be the team's third scoring option when he's healthy. It's unclear exactly when he will return, but it shouldn't be too long. The Lakers will want to be careful, as foot injuries can become persistent problems, especially in taller players.

With Kuzma ruled out, Lakers fans will be keen on seeing which players from this revamped roster earn starting nods on Tuesday night. The Lakers now have a generational talent in Davis, and a 34-year-old James should still be better than just about, well, everyone in the league. Vogel's job is to figure out how to best complement those two players (as well as figure out the best way to manage their workload). 

In the Lakers penultimate preseason game against Golden State, Vogel opted for a starting lineup of Avery Bradley, Danny Green, James, Davis and Javale McGee (the veterans got to rest in the final preseason game against the Warriors on Friday).

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This would appear to be the likely starting five for Tuesday, but Vogel told reporters after Friday's game that Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Dwight Howard and Rajon Rondo are under consideration. 

His discussion of the guys in the starting mix comes at one minute 54 seconds of this video, per Spectrum Sportsnet:

Rondo started 29 of the 46 games he played last year with the Lakers and is still a capable distributor, though that may not matter as much if James goes full point-foward mode this season. Howard was brought in after the Lakers lost DeMarcus Cousins for the season.

Howard is a bit of a question mark considering he played just nine games last season before back surgery ended his campaign. However, the 33-year-old center has been a starter throughout his entire career (1,043 of a possible 1,044 games), including his previous stint with the Lakers. His talents have certainly diminished, but he will likely put up a fight for McGee's minutes.

KCP is entering his third season with the Lakers. He was a full-time starter in 2017, but he spent most of the last season coming off the bench. With Danny Green now on the team, he may continue his role as a second-unit player capable of scoring in bunches.

The deep end of the Lakers bench is also unsettled at this point. The team waived guard Marcus Allen on Tuesday, leaving them with 19 players on the roster.

Two more cuts will get them down to 17. NBA teams are allowed 15 contract players plus a pair of two-way contract players, who are allowed to shuttle between the NBA and the G League, up to a certain point.

Kostas Antetokounmpo and Zach Norvell Jr. have the two-way contracts. The Lakers will need to shed two more players before Tuesday night.