Latest update on Jarred Vanderbilt comes with both good and bad news for Lakers

Mike Battaglino
3 Min Read

Though Jarred Vanderbilt’s heel injury is improving, the Los Angeles Lakers forward reportedly won’t be re-evaluated for another two weeks, leaving his timetable to return to the lineup unknown at this time.

The 24-year-old has been sidelined by bursitis in his left heel and wasn’t able to play in the Lakers’ first two games of the 2023-24 NBA season. He’s now in danger of missing several more.

Thought to be a contender for the starting lineup after signing a new deal this offseason, Vanderbilt appeared in just one preseason game, back on Oct. 7.

A strong defensive player who can guard multiple positions, the University of Kentucky product was acquired in a trade with the Utah Jazz last season. He contributed to the Lakers’ late-season push and run to the 2023 Western Conference Finals, where they were swept by the eventual NBA champion Denver Nuggets.

Vanderbilt played in 78 games in the 2022-23 regular season after appearing in 74 games for the Minnesota Timberwolves in the 2021-22 regular season.

Los Angeles opened this season with a loss to the Nuggets on Tuesday and then got its first win of the season on Thursday against the Phoenix Suns.

The Lakers have one of the deepest rosters in the NBA and should be able to withstand to absence of Vanderbilt at least in the short term. In the squad’s first two games, forward Taurean Prince filled out the starting lineup along with LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Austin Reaves and D’Angelo Russell.

That depth also comes in handy with the Lakers working within a plan to manage James’ minutes and workload more so than they have in the past. After playing 29 minutes in the season opener against the Nuggets, the 38-year-old logged 35 minutes against the Suns.

The Lakers have lofty goals for this season and would like to be at full strength as much as possible. If Vanderbilt is out for two more weeks, he could miss seven more games and possibly be able to return on Nov. 12 against the Portland Trail Blazers.

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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.