Los Angeles Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma missed Wednesday night’s 96-87 victory versus the Orlando Magic because of a sprained left ankle.
The three-year veteran injured his ankle nearly two weeks ago versus the Washington Wizards but had continued to play on it through soreness and discomfort, the team said.
The Lakers’ medical staff stepped in to hold him out against the Magic as the Lakers begin a five-game road trip, hoping the ankle can heal fully before Kuzma plays more games.
His status is considered day-to-day. It’s been a difficult season thus far for Kuzma, dubbed the third member of the Lakers’ big three alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis, after the team was able to hold on to him during negotiations for its blockbuster deal with New Orleans in the offseason.
Looking for the best online betting site? Visit Heritage Sports!
A string of injuries, starting with a stress reaction in his left ankle suffered during USA Basketball training camp in the summertime — the same ankle that is currently injured — has slowed the 24-year-old’s progress as a young star on the rise.
Through 20 games, Kuzma is averaging 11.1 points on 43.3% shooting while playing 23.1 minutes per night. Last season he averaged 18.7 points on 45.6% shooting while playing a bigger role on a lesser team, logging 33.1 minutes per game.
Kuzma has repeatedly spoken to the media in recent weeks about his patience being tested this season.
A team source told ESPN that he has experienced more upheaval in his role than the team anticipated; Davis is playing fewer minutes at the 5 because JaVale McGee and Dwight Howard have filled that role so well.
When Davis plays the 4, it pushes Kuzma out of the ideal stretch role he provides (he has lifted his 3-point percentage from 30.3% a year ago to 36% this season) and challenges him to make the most of playing out of position.