Darvin Ham offers injury updates on 3 Lakers ahead of opening night vs. Nuggets

Mike Battaglino
3 Min Read
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Lakers are moving toward full health with the season opener upcoming next week as head coach Darvin Ham provided updates on three players – Jarred Vanderbilt, Gabe Vincent and Jalen Hood-Schifino – on Saturday.

The Lakers wrapped up their preseason schedule on Thursday and open the 2023-24 NBA season on Tuesday at the defending champion Denver Nuggets. They will have Vincent available and may also have Vanderbilt while waiting on a further update regarding Hood-Schifino.

Vincent has been dealing with back tightness and played in just three of the six games this preseason. The 27-year-old said he could have returned to action sooner but the decision was made to play it safe to ensure that he’d be at full strength to begin the regular season.

Vanderbilt has been sidelined with heel soreness and has not played since the team’s preseason opener on Oct. 7. Hood-Schifino was injured in a preseason game against the Golden State Warriors on Oct. 13 and did not play in the final two contests.

The three are among a deep and talented supporting cast behind stars LeBron James and Anthony Davis, along with Austin Reaves, D’Angelo Russell and Taurean Prince in the expected starting lineup. Prince reportedly is beginning the season as a starter in part because of the injury to Vanderbilt.

Vincent joined the Lakers this offseason after playing a key role in helping the Miami Heat reach the 2023 NBA Finals, which they lost to the Nuggets. Vanderbilt received a contract extension this offseason after his arrival in a trade with the Utah Jazz in February. The 24-year-old was an important cog as the Lakers advanced all the way to the 2023 Western Conference Finals, where they too lost to Denver.

Hood-Schifino was the No. 17 overall pick in the 2023 NBA Draft, and the 20-year-old’s availability to make his NBA debut now is yet to be determined.

The Lakers enter the campaign as one of the contenders to win the NBA championship. With a game against the high-powered Phoenix Suns on tap two days after the opener, being at almost full strength should allow the Lakers to get off to a good start on that journey.

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Mike is a veteran journalist who has covered the NBA for almost three decades. He remembers the birth of "Showtime" and has always admired the star power the Lakers have brought to the game.