Latest progress update on Jarred Vanderbilt will delight Lakers fans

Michael Kaskey-Blomain
3 Min Read

Jarred Vanderbilt appears to be getting closer to a return to game action for the Los Angeles Lakers.

The forward was recently recorded working out with Lakers assistant coach DeMarre Carroll, and he appeared to be moving very well while getting some shots up and cutting around on the floor.

Vanderbilt, 24, has yet to appear in a game for the Lakers this season due to left heel bursitis. He was originally traded from the Utah Jazz to L.A. last season, and he signed a four-year, $48 million contract extension with the Lakers in the offseason. As a result, he figures to be a major factor in the team’s rotation this season and beyond.

The University of Kentucky product was cleared to begin a “return to play progression” earlier this month. Lakers coach Darvin Ham provided an update on him around that time.

“I don’t want to put a time on it,” Ham said. “Just, the biggest thing with Vando is him – because for so long now he’s had to do stationary drills just individually, he hasn’t had really any contact obviously.

“So just day by day, him ramping up, getting his conditioning. Low-impact conditioning as well as basketball court stuff. And just to see how he recovers from that day to day to day. So, it’s good that he got greenlit to start ramping up and being more aggressive with the workouts. But it’s just a day-by-day deal.”

Though the Lakers are obviously eager for Vanderbilt to return to game action, the team has gotten off to a decent start to the season without him. Through 16 games, L.A. sits at 9-7, which is good for eighth in the Western Conference. The Lakers also went 4-0 in In-Season Tournament group play to clinch their group and reserve a spot in the knockout round.

Perhaps the biggest benefit of Vanderbilt’s eventual return for the Lakers will be the fact that it could lighten the load of LeBron James. Despite being the oldest active player in the NBA this season, James has had to play major minutes for L.A. in many games, partly because of injury issues to other key contributors, like Vanderbilt.

The Lakers still hope to limit James’ minutes once the team is fully healthy in order to keep him fresh and healthy all season long, and Vanderbilt’s return should help to allow them to do that.

In 26 regular season games for the Lakers in the 2022-23 campaign, Vanderbilt averaged 7.2 points, 6.7 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1.2 steals in 24 minutes of action per performance.

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Michael has been covering the NBA since before the league vetoed Chris Paul's trade to the Lakers. Prior to writing for Lakers Daily, he covered the league for outlets including FanSided, 247 Sports and CBS Sports.