Jarred Vanderbilt started Lakers training camp appearing to have the inside track of the team’s fifth starting spot, but he may end it on the bench. Not only will he miss the team’s game on Friday night against the Golden State Warriors, but Dave McMenamin of ESPN is reporting that the Los Angeles is “monitoring soreness” in Vanderbilt’s left heel that has force him to sit out of the team’s last two games after playing in the preseason opener.
McMenamin adds that his sources still expect Vanderbilt to be ready for the regular season, however:
Jarred Vanderbilt will miss his third straight preseason game tonight against GSW as the Lakers are "monitoring soreness" in Vanderbilt's left heel, sources told ESPN. There is no concern that Vando will not be ready in time for the season opener, however.— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) October 13, 2023
Even if Vanderbilt is ready, though — and even if he is the mysterious fifth starter Darvin Ham said he’s already decided on — it’s hard not to be at least a little concerned that this could set the team back a bit as they try to help everyone gel in new roles and responsibilities.
The good news is that Vanderbilt spent nearly half a season and a Western Conference Finals run with all of the four known Lakers starters, so he won’t be set back as much as a new player would by not being able to play much in the preseason and training camp.
Still, if he is going to be coming off the bench, he and the team could certainly use the benefit of a few exhibition games and practices to help him settle into that role alongside newcomers like Gabe Vincent, Christian Wood and Jaxson Hayes.
Even so, this is hardly a major concern. If it takes Vanderbilt a few regular season games to gel with his new teammates, it is what it is. As we saw last year when he joined the Lakers, it doesn’t take much time for the 6’9 wing stopper to hit the ground running. Lakers fans will just have to hope the team really doesn’t have reason to be concerned over this heel injury lingering, and that Vando will be mostly good to go when the games start to count.
It remains to be seen if Vanderbilt will suit up again this preseason as the team practices caution with him, but he will have two more chances to play after sitting out on Friday night: Sunday vs. the Milwaukee Bucks, and Thursday against the Phoenix Suns.
Stay tuned to Silver Screen and Roll for updates on his status and more, and let us know how you’re feeling about this update in the comments below.
You can follow Harrison on Twitter at @hmfaigen.