Injury Notes: Vanderbilt, Beal, Magic, Nets

Lakers forward Jarred Vanderbilt has been cleared by team doctors to begin a return to play progression, tweets Dave McMenamin of ESPN.

Vanderbilt, 24, has yet to make his 2023/24 regular season debut, missing all 10 of the Lakers’ games due to left heel bursitis. Since he’s been sidelined for several weeks and has been dealing with a foot injury, it might take him some time to ramp up his conditioning.

Still, it’s obviously a positive update for both Vanderbilt and the team. The Lakers’ defense is currently ranked 22nd in the league, and having one of their top defenders nearing a return should help with that figure.

Here are a few more injury notes from around the NBA:

  • Suns guard Bradley Beal missed Phoenix’s first seven games with a lower back injury, which he tweaked during Sunday’s loss to Oklahoma City, writes Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic. Beal said his back was “a little tight” throughout the game and he needs to be “smart moving forward” after choosing to play the second half despite being less than 100 percent. “We’ve been trending in the right direction,” Beal said. “This is probably the first day we’ve had, I don’t want to say a setback, but where it’s gotten tight throughout the course of a game. It’s just evaluating that seeing how; recovery is always the biggest question. How I feel afterward. See how I feel (Sunday night), in the morning and hopefully I don’t feel like I got hit by a bus and I’ll be good to go come Wednesday.”
  • Magic guards Gary Harris and Markelle Fultz will be sidelined Tuesday in Brooklyn, but they’re traveling with the team on Orlando’s four-game road trip, according to Dan Savage of (Twitter link). It will be the fifth straight absence for Harris, who is battling a right groin strain, while Fultz is dealing with left knee soreness.
  • Nets center Nic Claxton had a strong performance in Sunday’s victory over Washington, notes Dan Martin of The New York Post. Claxton, who had missed the past eight games with a high left ankle sprain, finished with 10 points, 13 rebounds and four blocks in 28 minutes.
  • Unfortunately, Lonnie Walker aggravated a left knee injury on Sunday, Martin adds, but the Nets guard sounds determined to play through it. “I’ll be ready for the next game,” said Walker. “If my leg’s not broken, I’m gonna keep playing. We’ll see how it goes [Monday]. … It’s a lot of pain. I’ve been playing through it.” Walker is officially questionable for Tuesday’s game with a left knee contusion, while Ben Simmons will miss his fourth straight game with a left hip contusion, per Brian Lewis of The New York Post (Twitter link).
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