Lakers Injury Update: Jarred Vanderbilt Cleared To Begin Return To Play Progression
Jarred Vanderbilt, Lakers
John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Lakers gave an update on forward Jarred Vanderbilt, who has missed the first 10 games of the 2023-24 season with left heel bursitis. He was re-evaluated, and is making progress toward a return, per the team.

“Jarred Vanderbilt was reevaluated by Lakers team doctors and has been cleared to begin a return to play progression. Further updates will be provided as appropriate,” the Lakers announced on Monday morning.

Vanderbilt suffered the injury early in the preseason. Initially, head coach Darvin Ham had complete confidence that Vanderbilt would be ready to go by Opening Night. That confidence faded over time, and it was announced in late October that he would be re-evaluated in two weeks with the heel injury.

Earlier this month, Ham warned that while some of the Lakers many injured players were going to return sooner rather than later, Vanderbilt’s case was closer to later rather than sooner. Heel bursitis is a tricky injury that does not have one specific timeline.

Luckily, it appears as though Vanderbilt is making progress. The Lakers are in desperate need of his defensive presence, as he is arguably the team’s best perimeter defender. L.A. was widely expected to have one of the best defenses in the NBA but have struggled without Vanderbilt and other key pieces.

While Vanderbilt is not a major offensive contributor, his defense could help set the Lakers up in transition more often and the word around the team is that he worked on his 3-point shot this past summer.

It remains to be seen how long it will take him to get back in game shape, but the important thing here is that he is now healthy and getting close to making his season debut.

Taurean Prince not using injuries as excuse

Lakers forward Taurean Prince spoke about the injury bug that has seen Vanderbilt, him, Rui Hachimura, Gabe Vincent, LeBron James, Jaxson Hayes and Anthony Davis all miss time. Prince recognizes that this has affected the Lakers and their ability to win games, but has no interest in using it as an excuse.

“So it’s like, just putting your mind around what could be or the pieces that we are missing — you don’t want to use that as an excuse but you use it as something you keep in the back of your mind where you just know certain things could be different given a certain situation,” Prince said. “But life don’t work that way.”

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