Darvin Ham: There’s ‘Definitely’ Chance Jarred Vanderbilt Returns To Lakers Lineup This Season
Jarred Vanderbilt, Lakers
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Lakers found themselves during their recent six-game road trip as they went 4-2 to climb back above .500 and established some positive momentum.

Los Angeles has been inconsistent for most of the 2023-24 season, but after a couple of lineup tweaks from head coach Darvin Ham, the team has looked better on both ends. However, the Lakers were dealt a major blow as they saw Jarred Vanderbilt leave the recent game against the Boston Celtics with a foot injury.

Vanderbilt was immediately ruled out and missed the final two games on the road trip against the New York Knicks and Charlotte Hornets. There was initial worry that the injury was season-ending, but Vanderbilt was diagnosed with a mid-foot sprain and will be evaluated in three to four weeks.

Although doctors gave the forward a re-evaluation date, Ham revealed that the process isn’t over quite yet, via Spectrum SportsNet:

“Nah, it’s still ongoing… Whatever our doctors suggest at this point.”

However, Ham also didn’t rule out a return before the end of the season for Vanderbilt:

“Definitely. Just don’t want to get ahead of yourself. [You want to] allow the process to take place.”

There was concern that Vanderbilt would be forced miss the remainder of the year, so Ham saying there’s a shot he returns is good news. However, the team must be extremely careful with him because of the multiple lower-body injuries he’s already had to deal with.

Without Vanderbilt, Los Angeles loses its best point-of-attack defender and energy and effort player. Although he’s limited offensively as a finisher and shooter, Vanderbilt’s an important two-way piece on the roster and his presence will be sorely missed.

The Lakers have been scouring around the league before the NBA trade deadline for upgrades in the backcourt, but the Vanderbilt injury might shift their focus to more 3-and-D wings and two-way players. Those kinds of players will be in high demand, so it’ll be interesting to see if L.A. actually pulls the trigger on a deal.

Lakers interested in Dorian Finney-Smith, among others, at NBA trade deadline

There are no shortage of names that have been linked to the Lakers because of their obvious needs in several areas on their roster. One name that has been gaining traction the past week is Brooklyn Nets wing Dorian Finney-Smith, who is reportedly available.

L.A. has also been reported to be interested in Alex Caruso, Andre Drummond, Tyus Jones and Danilo Gallinari, among others.

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