The Los Angeles Lakers have preached continuity throughout this offseason and their actions have backed up their words. The team brought back important free agents in Austin Reaves, Rui Hachimura and D’Angelo Russell while also locking in superstar Anthony Davis to a new contract extension. Most recently, the team agreed to a new four-year, $48 million extension with forward Jarred Vanderbilt.
Acquired at the trade deadline, Vanderbilt quickly moved into the starting lineup and was the perfect fit next to Davis and LeBron James in the frontcourt. Despite his offensive shortcomings, Vanderbilt was the defensive ace for the Lakers, guarding everyone from point guards like Stephen Curry and Ja Morant to big wings like Kevin Durant and Kawhi Leonard.
Vanderbilt was absolutely crucial to the Lakers’ run down the stretch of last season and is clearly a favorite of James as well as the Lakers superstar took to Instagram to share his excitement at the news of Vanderbilt’s extension becoming official, via Kit Guinhawa of Clutch Points:
LeBron's hyped 👀 pic.twitter.com/C2pe2eFXej
— Kit Guinhawa (@BeatKit22) September 19, 2023
Vanderbilt’s non-stop energy and willingness to do all of the dirty work endeared him to his teammates, head coach Darvin Ham and the Lakers fans as a whole. His struggles with perimeter shooting are well known, but it doesn’t stop him from making an impact and he has been putting in work this summer with assistant Phil Handy.
Now it will be a matter of seeing where Vanderbilt fits into the rotation of a much deeper Lakers team. The additions of Christian Wood and Taurean Prince to an already deep frontcourt featuring LeBron, Davis and Hachimura means minutes might be tough to come by. Ham will have a tough job figuring out the right rotation, but Vanderbilt has already shown he can fit in well with this team’s stars.
LeBron is obviously a fan as he knows exactly what Vanderbilt brings to the table and now ‘Vando’ won’t have to worry about pending free agency next summer and can focus solely on doing what he does best for the Lakers this year.
Jarred Vanderbilt discusses differences in playing for Lakers
The Lakers acquired Vanderbilt from the Utah Jazz at the trade deadline last season and going from Utah to the bright lights of Los Angeles was a huge change for the forward.
Vanderbilt spoke on the differences, noting the Lakers fan base being unlike anything he’s ever experienced while also adding the change in expectations from within the franchise was much different.
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