The Lakers look set to once again be without Jarred Vanderbilt this season after his latest injury against the Celtics. Per both Dave McMenamin and Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, Vando is set to miss an extended time due to his injury.
The Lakers will undergo further testing on Vando to see the full extent of the injury.
There’s more evaluation that needs to be done on right mid-foot area for Vanderbilt and possibility his absence could be more significant than several weeks, sources said. Vanderbilt’s played some of his best ball as a Laker lately and certainly is one of team’s best defenders. https://t.co/5eF8UEgSnI— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) February 2, 2024
In the article from both Woj and McMenamin, the possibility of a “season-ending procedure” is on the table depending on that further evaluation.
Vanderbilt will undergo more extensive consultation in the coming days on his mid-foot area to determine the full extent of the injury and whether a season-ending procedure could become necessary, sources said.
For clarity, it is a right foot injury that Vanderbilt suffered against the Celtics but it was his left heel that kept him sidelined early in the season, so the two injuries are not connected. If anything, that feels like it makes things even worse.
That injury severely limited him even after he returned, but Vando had hit his stride in recent weeks and looked like the player who was so important in last season’s playoff push.
Coming into Thursday’s contest, Vando was averaging 8.8 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.2 stocks per game over the previous 11 contests. Most importantly, his minutes were notably up. He logged a season-high 41 minutes against the Warriors and eclipsed 25 minutes in six of those contests, a span that also includes his ejection against the Rockets.
His importance to the Lakers can’t be understated. Defensively, he’s the team’s best perimeter defender and while he has limits offensively, he’s improved this season in finding ways to be productive. Perhaps most important is the energy level he brings that seems to elevate the team when he’s on the floor.
Without him for multiple weeks, the Lakers are going to have to deal with the huge hole left by his absence. Perhaps it changes their approach at the trade deadline and sees them make a move for a wing defender.
Regardless of the ramifications, this is a huge blow for the Lakers and certainly changes their outlook for the season. The longer he is out, the bleaker the outlook for this team is, barring some drastic change.
And, frustratingly, it’s another injury blow for a team that has many of them this season.
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