Kyle Kuzma

L.A. Notes: Howard, Kuzma, George, Leonard

Over his last few NBA stops, Lakers center Dwight Howard earned a reputation for rubbing teammates the wrong way, in part because of his “poorly-timed playfulness” that led some people in league circles to believe he lacked professionalism, writes Sam Amick of The Athletic. Since arriving in Los Angeles this summer though, Howard has been all business, with noticeable changes to his “dedication and demeanor.” As the veteran center tells Amick, that new approach has been deliberate.

“I’m the same person. I love to have fun, love to enjoy life. I just separate it,” Howard said. “There’s a time and a place for everything. I’m here for business. When I go home, that’s when I can be who I want to be. But right now, when I put on that jersey and when I come in this locker room, it’s about the Lakers. And that’s it.”

Howard, who made a strong early impression by studying game film with head coach Frank Vogel on the Lakers’ flight back from China last month, is also off to a strong start on the court. He has averaged 6.7 PPG, 7.9 RPG, and 2.1 BPG in a part-time role through seven games, with a league-high .786 FG%.

Here’s more on Los Angeles’ two teams:

  • After being held to 19 and 16 minutes in his first two games this season, Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma had a more lenient minutes limit on Tuesday against the Bulls, writes Eric Woodyard of Although Kuzma only ended up playing 21 minutes, Vogel is prepared to increase that figure going forward. “To me, it’s not so much what his limitations are,” Vogel said before Tuesday’s game. “It’s really about rhythm and timing and conditioning, for me, in terms of what his minutes end up being. But he’s allowed to play 26 now.”
  • Paul George is scheduled to go through his first full-contact practice as a member of the Clippers on Saturday, per Ohm Youngmisuk of A Wednesday report indicated that the team is hoping to have George make his season debut next week, either on November 13 in Houston or November 14 in New Orleans.
  • Jovan Buha and Sam Amick of The Athletic take a deep dive into the Clippers‘ load managing of Kawhi Leonard, exploring whether his nights off are precautionary or if he’s actually dealing with an injury. Sources tell The Athletic duo that there’s no definitive plan to have Leonard miss half of every single back-to-back set this season. The star forward’s rest schedule will be determined a few weeks at a time, and could be adjusted as the year goes on.

Pacific Notes: Kings, Paschall, Kuzma, Clippers

The Kings have started the 2019/20 season with a 1-5 record, making them one of the most underwhelming teams in the campaign’s first two weeks.

Sacramento opened the year losing by 29 in Phoenix, going home two days later to lose to Portland 122-112. The team then fell by a 113-81 margin to Utah the following day, lost 101-94 to Denver two days later, and lost 118-111 to Charlotte this past Wednesday.

“We know we signed up to be on this journey and grow this team and get this team back into the playoffs and all of that, and that’s what we’re going to do,” coach Luke Walton said, according to Sam Amick of The Athletic. “It’s not the start we wanted, but the work that’s being done, I think, is the foundation for what’s going to get us there when we’re ready. And maybe…”

The Kings certainly have time to figure this out and correct their poor start, though they’ll have to do so without star forward Marvin Bagley III. Bagley is expected to miss at least three-to-five more weeks with a fractured right thumb.

“We’ll find out when we’re ready,” Walton admitted. “You know, there’s no way to know. But we’re going to keep pushing these guys, and growing these guys, making sure that we’re playing and continuing to understand what it takes to win at a consistent level in this league. It’s gonna happen.”

Sacramento could start the process by defeating the Knicks on Sunday, one of three other teams that own a 1-5 record on the season (Golden State, New Orleans).

Here are some other notes from the Pacific Division tonight:

  • Warriors rookie Eric Paschall is beginning to look like a second-round steal, Anthony Slater writes for The Athletic. Paschall, who was drafted by Golden State with the No. 41 overall pick in June, has received more playing time in the wake of several injuries to key players. Paschall has made the most of his opportunity, scoring 13.8 points per game on 61% shooting in six contests.
  • The Lakers are considering a sixth-man role for Kyle Kuzma, who remains on a minutes restriction as he returns from injury, Kyle Goon of the Orange County Register writes. However, head coach Frank Vogel refused to commit to anything just yet. “Sometimes it makes sense to have a guy coming off the bench filling that role, and sometimes it doesn’t,” Vogel said. “Sometimes it makes more sense to put him in the starting lineup. I don’t know the answer to that. It depends on each group. I have to see everybody play with each other, but there’s definitely value to that.”
  • The Federal Aviation Adminstration has approved the Clippers’ plans for a new billion-dollar arena in Inglewood, Nathan Fenno of the Los Angeles Times writes. In their approval, it was confirmed that the 37 applications covering the majority of the proposed idea pose no hazards to aviation, Fenno notes. The Clippers are hoping to move into their new arena in 2024, the same year their lease at Staples Center expires.

Lakers Notes: Howard, Davis, Kuzma

Years after a disappointing first tour of duty with the Lakers, Dwight Howard is back in Hollywood. While he’s no longer a superstar, Howard has excelled in his role off the bench, providing L.A. with solid defense and rebounding.

Unexpectedly, one of his biggest supporters is Kobe Bryant. The former teammates’ bad blood from their lone season together has been well documented from both sides. Bryant labeled Howard “soft” and the big man has said he hated the former NBA MVP “for years” for making that comment. However, watching from afar this time, Bryant is thrilled for Howard’s success.

“I’m happy for him because sometimes we don’t realize how much we love the game and miss the game until that window starts closing or its closed,” Bryant said to The Los Angeles Times’ Arash Markazi. “Then you’re like, ‘Oh damn, I really miss playing the game. I want another opportunity to show what I can do.’ Sometimes you don’t know if that opportunity will ever come again. For him, I really believe he’s appreciative of the opportunity and I think he’s going to make a hell of an impact because of the new appreciation he has for playing the game.”

Check out more Lakers notes below:

  • The acquisition of Anthony Davis has helped make the Lakers a legitimate Finals contender, but the All-Star is content doing less in Los Angeles so that both he and LeBron James can impact the game, Brett Dawson of The Athletic writes.
  • There has been a lot of chatter about Davis and whether or not he’s more effective playing the power forward or center positions. Kyle Goon of the Orange County Register opines that L.A.’s best lineup may include Davis at center and that the return of Kyle Kuzma only further accentuates that point.
  • Speaking of Kuzma, the forward made his season debut on Friday night, totaling nine points and three rebounds in nearly 19 minutes. Head coach Frank Vogel has noted that the team will patient with Kuzma as he reintegrates with the team. “It’ll be a little bit of a learning curve for him, but hopefully it doesn’t take too long,” Vogel said.

And-Ones: Kuzma, NCAA, Vujacic, Agents

Kyle Kuzma will make his debut for the Lakers on Friday and LeBron James is happy to have him back with the club, as Sacha Pisani of Sporting News relays.

“He hasn’t played since USA basketball when he had the stress reaction,” James said “Obviously he’s been training and working out, but like I always tell you guys, there’s no substitution for game fatigue and game stamina.

“That will come, though. It’s great to have him back on the floor. We definitely missed him.”

Here’s more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • Sasha Vujacic wants to return to the NBA, as tells Arash Markazi of the Los Angeles Times. “I love the game so much, and I don’t want to walk away yet,” Vujacic said. “I’m in the best shape of my life right now. I work out every summer with DeAndre Jordan, and he said the same thing. I’m 35, but I feel like I’m 25. As long as I have that desire and fire inside of me, I’m going to keep pushing.”
  • The NCAA has begun the process of allowing student-athletes to benefit from their name and likeness, as their website announces.
  • Longtime NBA agents Roger Montgomery and Derrick Powell are teaming up to form the Elite Athlete Group, Adrian Wojnarowski of relays (Twitter link). Powell previously worked with Ja Morant.

NBA G League Assignment/Recalls: 10/30/19

Every night during the NBA G League season, Hoops Rumors provides the assignments and recalls for each team. With training camps now open, here are Wednesday’s assignments and recalls from around the G League:

Kyle Kuzma To Make Season Debut

The Lakers, winners of three straight games after an opening-night loss to their crosstown rival, will add some additional firepower to their roster on Friday against the Mavs, with Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium reporting that forward Kyle Kuzma is set to make his season debut.

As we relayed last night, Kuzma was already set to travel with the team on their upcoming three-game road trip, so the news that he will make his 2019/20 debut in the Lakers’ next game isn’t a big surprise, but it’s still noteworthy, as Kuzma is poised to try and give L.A. their own version of a “Big 3” alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis.

Kuzma was sidelined for the first four games of this season with a stress reaction in his left foot. It’s unclear whether he’ll be on a minutes restriction in his first game or two back, but it certainly wouldn’t be a surprise.

Once back in the lineup and up to full speed, the 24-year-old Utah product will look to improve upon an impressive sophomore campaign in which he posted a stat line of 18.7 PPG, 5.5 RPG, and 2.5 APG on .553/.303/.752 shooting.

Windhorst’s Latest: Celtics, Sixers, Blazers, Lakers

The 2019/20 NBA regular season is only eight days old, but a handful of potential contenders may be starting to think about how to fill the obvious holes on their rosters, says ESPN’s Brian Windhorst.

For instance, Windhorst believes that the Celtics will be keeping an eye on the trade market this season in search of a possible upgrade at the center spot. Boston was always expected to be thin up front after losing centers Al Horford and Aron Baynes, but missed games from Enes Kanter and Daniel Theis in the early going have exacerbated the issue.

Windhorst identifies Steven Adams and Clint Capela as two centers the Celtics might have on their radar, though he cautions that the Thunder have told teams they view Adams as part of their future. As for the Rockets, they expect to be a contender and may not want to move their starting center, but executives are still watching Capela — Windhorst notes that the Rockets explored moving the big man early in the 2019 offseason, so it wouldn’t be a huge surprise if they do so again.

Here’s more from Windhorst:

  • Windhorst believes the Sixers would like to add a shooter — not a star, but someone who can reliably knock down three-pointers and space the floor. While Philadelphia may ultimately turn to the buyout market, the club has several extra second-round picks available if a trade target emerges.
  • The Trail Blazers could use a scoring forward, according to Windhorst, who thinks the Thunder‘s Danilo Gallinari is a more realistic target than Kevin Love. Gallinari’s expiring contract would make more sense, given Portland’s long-term cap outlook.
  • Rival executives view Kyle Kuzma and Danny Green as the Lakers‘ best trade assets, but both players will be important contributors in Los Angeles. With few other viable trade candidates, the Lakers may ultimately have to rely on the buyout market if they want to acquire a ball-handler and/or a wing defender, writes Windhorst.
  • Windhorst wonders if the Nuggets might try to find a small forward capable of slowing down stars like Kawhi Leonard and LeBron James in the postseason. Torrey Craig is Denver’s best option for now, but if the team seeks an upgrade, Andre Iguodala could be a target. Using Mason Plumlee‘s $14MM expiring salary, the Nuggets might be able to put together an offer that appeals to the Grizzlies, says Windhorst.

Pacific Notes: Kuzma, Kings, Curry

Kyle Kuzma will travel with the Lakers for their upcoming road trip and it’s possible that he makes his season debut over the next three games, Bill Oram of The Athletic relays (Twitter link). The team travels to Dallas, San Antonio, and Chicago over the next week.

Here’s more from around the Pacific Division:

  • James Ham of NBC Sports California wonders if the Kings should replace Dewayne Dedmon in the starting lineup with Richaun Holmes. Dedmon, who came to Sacramento on a three-year deal, is struggling to make an impact and Holmes is performing admirably off the bench.
  • Sacramento’s problems this season are not new, Jason Jones of The Athletic contends. The 0-4 Kings have issues on both sides of the court and Jones cites the team’s lack of energy as a major reason why the squad is underperforming.
  • Don’t expect the Warriors to turn Stephen Curry into James Harden, as head coach Steve Kerr told the media in Northern California. “We could turn him into James Harden and give him the ball every play,” Kerr said (via Nick Friedell of “That’s really hard to do and you have to build a team for that. Houston has put five shooters on the floor for years now with Harden to give him that space. We don’t have that kind of personnel, so there’s not the same spacing. And that kind of basketball wears you out, too.”

Lakers Notes: Opening Night, LeBron, Kawhi, Jones

Kyle Kuzma is not playing for the Lakers tonight against the Clippers as he recovers from a stress reaction in his left foot. According to Dave McMenamin of, it’s not clear how long Kuzma will remain sidelined.

“He’s on no-contact, half-court now,” coach Frank Vogel said of Kuzma. “I’m sure we’ll build up to no-contact, full-court with sprinting or potentially half-court with contact. I’m not sure which direction they’re going to take it next, but there will be a progression this week building him up.”

Vogel added that Kuzma has been “impatient” with his injury but is “on board with the plan” that the team has to get him back at full strength.

Here’s more from Los Angeles:

  • LeBron James could envision a world where Kawhi Leonard was also on the Lakers, but he isn’t sure why the reigning Finals MVP picked the Clippers in free agency, as McMenamin relays in a separate piece. “Man, how the hell can I answer that? I don’t [expletive] know,” James said jocularly when asked what convinced Leonard to sign elsewhere. “I don’t know. I don’t know. Ask Kawhi.”
  • Anthony Davis said he had a role in attempting to recruit Leonard. “It was fun just to go through it, for me, with a player like Kawhi, trying to recruit him to come here. It was fun,” Davis said (via McMenamin in the same article). “We had one conversation, and I think he came out with a statement, or his uncle or something … somebody said he don’t really like all the recruitment and all that stuff, so I felt like I overstepped my boundaries…But it was a fun process. I would do it all over.”
  • The South Bay Lakers have traded the G League rights of Jemerrio Jones to the Wisconsin Herd (Bucks‘ affiliate), per a team press release. The Lakers’ affiliate will receive the No. 8 overall pick in the upcoming G League draft and the Herd’s 2020 first-rounder for Jones, who was recently waived by the Wizards and signed by Bucks on an Exhibit 10 deal.

Lakers Exercise 2020/21 Option On Kyle Kuzma

The Lakers have picked up their fourth-year option on forward Kyle Kuzma, the team announced today in a press release. The move ensures that Kuzma’s $3,562,178 cap hit for the 2020/21 season is now fully guaranteed.

[RELATED: Decisions On 2020/21 Rookie Scale Team Options]

A stress reaction in his left foot has jeopardized Kuzma’s potential availability for opening night, but he’s expected to be a key contributor for the Lakers this season once he returns to action. Although the 24-year-old averaged 18.7 PPG and 5.5 RPG in 70 games (33.1 MPG) last season, he struggled with his efficiency, knocking down just 30.3% of his three-point attempts.

With Anthony Davis and LeBron James drawing significant attention from opposing defenses, Kuzma will have to make open looks at a higher rate in 2019/20, and he sounds confident he can do just that. He suggested in August that he believes he’s capable of becoming the Lakers’ third star.

With his fourth-year option locked in, Kuzma will now be eligible for a rookie scale extension during the 2020 offseason. If he doesn’t sign a new deal at that time, he’d remain on track for restricted free agency in the summer of 2021.