While the Lakers have, largely, speaking, been healthy this preseason, there has been one notable exception to that. Jarred Vanderbilt played the first preseason game before being sidelined with a heel injury.
Head coach Darvin Ham ruled out Vanderbilt for the remainder of the preseason at the beginning of the week. He also noted that Vanderbilt would be re-evaluated at week’s end.
On Saturday, Ham didn't provide many specifics, but did sat Vanderbilt was now considered day-to-day as part of a slew of injury updates:
Jarred Vanderbilt (left heel soreness) is day-to-day, per Darvin Ham. Gabe Vincent is cleared to play on opening night in Denver. Jalen Hood-Schifino is still being evaluated.— Jovan Buha (@jovanbuha) October 21, 2023
Gabe Vincent will be available for the Lakers' season opener against the Nuggets, Darvin Ham says.— Khobi Price (@khobi_price) October 21, 2023
The status Jarred Vanderbilt (left heel soreness) is being deemed "day to day" but Darvin Ham says it's unlikely he'll be available against Denver.
Gabe Vincent is “in clear” to play but Jarred Vanderbilt (heel) questionable, per Lakers coach Darvin Ham— Brad Turner (@BA_Turner) October 21, 2023
Taurean Prince will be fifth start with LeBron James, AD, Austin Reaves and D’Angelo Russell, per Lakers coach Darvin Ham— Brad Turner (@BA_Turner) October 21, 2023
It remains to be seen what role Vanderbilt will play in the rotation when he does return, but having him as an option to use and experiment with is undoubtedly better than the alternative, so this upgrade is (tepidly) good news, even if it seems he won't be ready for opening day.
Coming into the season, Vanderbilt signed a contract worth $48 million over four years. He was a key piece in getting the Lakers to the playoffs during their regular season push. And at 24 years old, he can be part of the core moving forward as well.
Missing the preseason, though, isn’t ideal. The chemistry the team built last season together will allow him to reintegrate into the team, but he certainly doesn't have as much of a headstart as previously thought entering the season.
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