The Los Angeles Lakers provided an update on forward Jarred Vanderbilt on Monday morning, revealing that he is getting closer to a return.
OFFICIAL: Jarred Vanderbilt was reevaluated by Lakers team doctors and has been cleared to begin a return to play progression. Further updates will be provided as appropriate.
Vanderbilt has not played yet this season with a heel injury.
Last season, Vanderbilt played 24.0 minutes per game for the Lakers in 26 games after he was acquired by the team in a trade at the deadline.
The Lakers have been dealing with injuries to players such as Anthony Davis, Rui Hachimura, Gabe Vincent, Taurean Prince and rookie Jalen Hood-Schifino this season, so having another healthy player in Vanderbilt would certainly help the team.
Even though some of those players have already returned to the Lakers lineup, it’s still important for the team to have as much depth as possible for the grind of an 82-game season.
Vanderbilt also could be used to lighten the load on star LeBron James, who has played 35 or more minutes on several occasions this season.
After being dealt to Los Angeles, Vanderbilt averaged 7.2 points, 6.7 rebounds and 1.2 steals per game while shooting 52.9 percent from the field and 30.3 percent from beyond the arc.
A strong defender, Vanderbilt is a versatile player that can guard several positions. That also allows Lakers head coach Darvin Ham to use him in various lineups, and he even used Vanderbilt to guard Stephen Curry at times when the team played the Golden State Warriors in the playoffs last season.
It’s unclear exactly who Vanderbilt would take minutes from in the team’s current rotation once he’s healthy enough to return, but it’s likely that he would factor in at the forward spot with Prince and Hachimura.
Los Angeles is now 5-5 on the season season after taking down the Portland Trail Blazers at home on Sunday.
It’s hard to say when the forward will be ready to go for the team. Luckily, the Lakers still have a ton of time left in the regular season to get Vanderbilt ramped up and ready to contribute.