The Lakers suffered a huge blow on their recent road trip when Jarred Vanderbilt exited mid-game against the Celtics with a foot injury. The initial diagnosis offered a bit of optimism as Vanderbilt would not undergo surgery and would be re-evaluated in roughly a month’s time.
However, that doesn’t mean surgery is entirely off the table. Lakers vice president of basketball operations Rob Pelinka provided some more insight into Vanderbilt’s injury and kept the possibility of surgery on the table.
“Until an injury is healed and the player is back,” Pelinka said, “you’re kind of always in the evaluation process of figuring out what it’s going to take to get a player healthy and back onto the court. I would just say we’re hopeful that we can get Jarred back, healthy and on the court without surgery. But you never know. Time will tell but that’s certainly our hope.”
I am not a doctor nor did I stay at a Holiday Inn Express — our own Dr. Rajpal Brar is one and offered his insight — but this feels an awful lot like last year’s injury with LeBron James. At the time, there was uncertainty if LeBron would need surgery but he eventually returned and finished out the season and playoffs before reconsidering whether surgery was needed.
This could be entirely different situations with no overlap, and it may not play out the same at all, but the point I’m making is that the Lakers' approach is similar to the one last year.
Everyone, including the Lakers, is aware of Vando's impact on the court and his importance to this team. Getting him back on the floor is paramount for the team’s long-term and postseason success.
But having him healthy is important as well. Hopefully, he’ll be able to avoid surgery and return to the court this season as he raises the ceiling of this team. There is no defender like him on the roster and that alone makes him supremely valuable.
There was a hint of optimism in Pelinka’s quote that they could avoid surgery and if you have any optimism left to give for this team, focus it on Vando’s recovery and rehab.
You can follow Jacob on Twitter at @JacobRude.