The Los Angeles Lakers acquired Jarred Vanderbilt as one of their marquee pieces at last season’s trade deadline from the Utah Jazz, and he instantly became a pivotal player in the team’s success. With that success, he earned himself a four-year, $48 million extension prior to the start of the 2023-24 season.
The reasonable contract for a really quality player is the sign of a good relationship between the player and the team. Vanderbilt endeared himself right away to the franchise, its fanbase and superstars LeBron James and Anthony Davis with his hustling style of play, and he clearly felt it was a good fit on his end.
Vanderbilt discussed what his first impressions of the Lakers organization and fanbase were after he was traded from the Jazz last season, according to Run Your Race podcast via Tidal League:
“Their fan base is like no other fan base. Everywhere you go, it’s just like a movie. Like it really is, there’s just no other way to put it. Obviously the lights are brighter and you’re on TV every game. Like in Utah, we maybe had only a couple TV games, and now you’re playing every night on the biggest stage. So I would say it was just night and day coming from Utah. And the approach was different too because now we were competing. We went from, like, we weren’t really trying to win at that point. Maybe a little bit, but we weren’t pushing winning. And now it was almost like championship or bust. The whole approach changed and we didn’t have any time to waste when we got traded because we were already in the hole. We got straight to it. But playing for the Lakers is definitely like no other fan base, for sure.”
Another difference between the Lakers and the Jazz for Vanderbilt was the superstar presence of James and Davis. The Jazz did not have any superstars at the time of the trade and now, Vanderbilt was playing alongside two of the league’s very best.
“Just being able to be around them and learn from them and watch how they approach the game and practice and everything, they are just so efficient in what they do on and off the court. Having guys like that, they just made the game so much easier for you, they’re such high IQ, high-level players that made our jobs easier. Guys like me, (Beasley), (Russell) and Rui, everybody that came in we were able to play alongside those guys. And I think that’s why we were able to take off because we complemented what they needed at the time. Playing with them is basically just them leading the way, especially coming in mid-season, for those guys to just accept you and teach you, they made our transition so much smoother. And we just started clicking. I think we were connected at the time even though it was a short time.”
Everything Vanderbilt says makes his extension with the team an even more obvious call for both sides. The fit was strong and was felt by both sides. And with a full offseason of getting to learn alongside James and Davis some more, the ceiling for the Lakers could be raised even higher than the Western Conference Finals.
Vanderbilt and Cam Reddish team up in offseason run
Vanderbilt has also spent some time with one of his newest Lakers teammates in Cam Reddish this offseason as he prepares for an important 2023-24 campaign. Vanderbilt and Reddish teamed up for the Rico Hines runs at UCLA, and a video of the runs can be seen here.
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