The Los Angeles Lakers announced that Jarred Vanderbilt has been ruled out for their home opener at Crypto.com Arena against the Phoenix Suns.
Vanderbilt has not played since the Lakers’ first preseason game on Oct. 7 and will now miss his second consecutive game to start the 2023-24 season.
After signing a four-year extension, Vanderbilt was expected to be in the mix for the fifth starting spot, but instead has been watching the team from the sidelines. Taurean Prince was named the final starter and appears to have a firm grasp on the role considering his fit next to the other starters.
What seemed to be a minor injury at first has become concerning for the Lakers and Vanderbilt as the team has not provided any timeline for his return. They are now classifying the injury as left heel bursitis though after previously calling it soreness.
Vanderbilt has dealt with lower body injuries before, and unfortunately it looks like he’ll need some more time to get 100 percent healthy.
Los Angeles was able to add several wings in the offseason, so they’re able to absorb Vanderbilt’s absence in the short-term, though Darvin Ham would surely like to have him back as he’s arguably their best perimeter defender. Although the the 24-year-old got played off the floor in the playoffs, he’s still got utility as a versatile defender and energy guy.
Prince will presumably continue to soak up most of the small forward minutes, with Rui Hachimura spelling him off the bench. Cam Reddish also got run in the team’s opener against the Denver Nuggets and could take on a larger role if Vanderbilt has to miss more time.
Vanderbilt would’ve been great to have against the Suns as he would’ve likely drawn the assignment on Kevin Durant. Prince will slide in and take that matchup, though the Lakers might be catching a break as Devin Booker and Bradley Beal are both listed as doubtful.
Booker was sensational in the Suns’ season opener but has been dealing with left foot soreness while Beal has yet to make his Phoenix debut with low back tightness.
Vanderbilt’s next chance to play would be Sunday on the road against the Sacramento Kings, but that is the first game of a back-to-back set. The team could opt to have him miss that game as well and potentially have him make his debut on Monday back at home against the Orlando Magic.
Cam Reddish dealing with right foot soreness, listed as probable versus Suns
Cam Reddish was also listed on the injury report for the game against Phoenix with right foot soreness, but is listed as probable. Reddish had a solid debut against the Warriors and could make a case for more minutes with a strong performance against the Suns.
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