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Should the Lakers extend Jarred Vanderbilt?

After long being a player on a bargain contract, Jarred Vanderbilt is eligible for an extension that should finally see him get his worth, but should the Lakers offer it?

Golden State Warriors v Los Angeles Lakers - Game Four Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

At the trade deadline, the Lakers made such a flurry of moves that a player like Jarred Vanderbilt, in the moment, went under the radar. It’s a good summary of Vando’s time in the NBA as a man who has been a bargain of a player as his production has always outsized his contract.

But after joining the Lakers and playing a big role in their push to and through the playoffs, Vando is no longer an underrated commodity. Conveniently enough for him, he will become extension-eligible this summer and can finally be paid his worth.

Starting on Sep. 7 and running through next June, Vanderbilt and the Lakers can discuss an extension. The question is, should those be discussions the Lakers have?

Theoretically, the maximum the Lakers could offer Vanderbilt is roughly $75 million over four years or an average annual value of $18.75 million. Now, that’s not a realistic offer the Lakers are going to make, but there’s a whole lot of wiggle room between that figure and the $4.6 million he’s making this season, a number that wasn’t even guaranteed initially.

There are plenty of reasons for the Lakers to extend him. He was a driving force in getting the Lakers to the playoffs, particularly when LeBron James was sidelined. His willingness to do the dirty work and make the hustle plays fills a void that has existed for the Lakers throughout the years.

At the same time, his flaws were on full display as the competition levels rose in the postseason. A lack of dependable offense severely limited him and eventually saw him benched in the final stages of the Western Conference Finals. With the Lakers having ideas and goals of contending for titles, are those limitations too severe to overcome and be part of a title-winning rotation?

What’s worth noting is that Vanderbilt is still just 24 years old. That is younger than Austin Reaves and Rui Hachimura and only a year older than two-way rookie Colin Castleton. There is still plenty of time for development still, and Vando is far from a finished product.

The discussion of what Vando does bring to the table, though, should carry as much weight as what he needs to improve upon. It’s a give-and-take discussion.

Another interesting part of this is that the Lakers have committed money to a number of players long-term. Hachimura, Reaves, and Gabe Vincent are all under contract through the 2025-26 season, which might make it easier for the Lakers to give out an extension to Vanderbilt for the coming years.

The Lakers are in no rush right now to agree to an extension. In fact, unless Vando is willing to take a very team-friendly deal prior to the season, it’s probably smarter to wait and see how Vando has developed during the season before committing longer term.

Ultimately, it’s likely going to amount to a storyline to follow as we head into the season. Both sides could take a gamble on a deal but, for the first time in his career, Vando is set to be paid his worth either in the near or perhaps a bit more distant future.

You can follow Jacob on Twitter at @JacobRude.

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