Source: Lakers' Jarred Vanderbilt targeting Game 3 return

ByDave McMenamin ESPN logo
Tuesday, April 23, 2024

DENVER -- Lakers forward Jarred Vanderbilt, sidelined since Feb. 1 because of a right midfoot sprain, is targeting a return as soon as Game 3 of Los Angeles' first-round series against the Denver Nuggets, a source familiar with the situation told ESPN.

Vanderbilt has been ramping up his on-court workouts in the past two weeks, the source told ESPN, and participated in one of his most intense workouts yet Monday morning at Ball Arena.

Vanderbilt's availability will be determined based on how his body responds in the coming days leading up to Thursday's Game 3 in Los Angeles.

Both Vanderbilt and Lakers backup big man Christian Wood had not been cleared to return as of Monday, a team source told ESPN, however L.A. remains "hopeful" it could have both players back against Denver.

Wood has been sidelined since Feb. 14 because of his left knee, which required arthroscopic surgery in March.

"We'll see how he responds to what he did today," Lakers coach Darvin Ham said when asked about Vanderbilt's morning workout. "And still, nothing is going to change in terms of new information. It's just a day-by-day thing. And so we have to see how he tolerates the recovery process. He exerted himself at a pretty high level today. So we'll see how he feels tomorrow. We'll just keep going day by day."

Known for his defensive impact, the 25-year-old Vanderbilt was in one of the best offensive grooves of his career prior to suffering the injury nearly three months ago in the first half of a game against the Boston Celtics.

In Vanderbilt's last eight games before hurting his foot, he averaged 10.5 points on 66% shooting, 5.4 rebounds and 2.3 steals. And in the last six of those games, Vanderbilt averaged 11.3 points -- the highest points per game average over a six-game stretch in his six-year career, according to research by ESPN Stats & Information.