Lakers Injury Update: Jarred Vanderbilt Hasn’t Participated In Contact Drills But Has Begun Running
Jarred Vanderbilt, Lakers
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Despite missing several of their role players, the Los Angeles Lakers have managed to string together a five-game winning streak to keep pace in the Western Conference playoff race.

The Lakers still sit in the ninth seed but have nearly cemented their Play-In Tournament spot while simultaneously giving themselves an outside shot to move up in the standings. Health has always been an issue for the team, though it’s normally been LeBron James or Anthony Davis that the organization has had to worry about the most.

Los Angeles has been carefully monitoring Jarred Vanderbilt, who has been working through his rehab process to return from a mid-foot sprain he suffered over a month ago. There recently was more internal optimism that Vanderbilt will be able to return before the end of the 2023-24 season than Gabe Vincent, but it appears that is no longer the case as the former has yet to participate in contact drills, via Dave McMenamin of ESPN:

With only nine games left in the regular season, time is running out for Vanderbilt to return to the floor before Play-In Tournament and postseason begin. The versatile forward would presumably need time to go through contact in practice and then a couple more practices to get his conditioning back up.

If Los Angeles is able to make it out of the Play-In, there’s a good chance that Vanderbilt can come back though his role would likely be limited given the success the current starting group with Rui Hachimura has looked. However, having Vanderbilt as an option off the bench would be a massive boost for the team as the front court depth has taken a hit with his and Christian Wood’s injury.

For now, Vanderbilt will need to continue to progress in rehab before the medical staff clears him for return to play. In the meantime, the purple and gold will just need to keep doing what they’re doing with Vincent expected to return on Sunday against the Brooklyn Nets.

D’Angelo Russell calls Austin Reaves the Lakers’ iron man

Although several role players have been hit hard with injuries, Austin Reaves has been able to stay healthy the entire season. Reaves is the only player on the Lakers’ roster that has appeared in every game this year which is why D’Angelo Russell called him the team’s iron man.

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