Jarred Vanderbilt was a vital part of the Lakers mid-season turnaround that started last February.
Almost considered a throw-in on the three-team Russell Westbrook trade, within three games in a Lakers uniform Vanderbilt was a starter next to Anthony Davis and LeBron James because he was the kind of switchable, versatile wing defender the Lakers desperately needed. He covered the holes in his game (his lack of shooting and offense in general) by finishing more than half of his shots at the rim, and playing within himself. He was part of why the Lakers turned things around and advanced to the Western Conference Finals.
That earned Vanderbilt a new four-year, $48 million contract extension, a story broken by Shams Charania of The Athletic (and since confirmed by others).
That extension kicks in for the 2024-25 NBA season, Vanderbilt is locked into making $4.6 million this coming season. Vanderbilt has a player option in the fourth year of the deal.
At $12 million a year on average, this is a fair contract value for both sides (and is a very tradable contract, should the Lakers want to make a change down the line). This is another solid move by the Lakers this offseason. Rob Pelinka and company have added quality depth by signing Gabe Vincent, Taurean Prince, Christian Wood, Jaxson Hayes (I’m higher on him than most, particularly in this setting), and Cam Reddish while re-signing Austin Reaves (on a steal of a deal, thank you restricted free agency), D’Angelo Russell and Rui Hachimura.
Vanderbilt brings something the Lakers need in an on-ball defender who can slow or shut down the quality wings in the West (he got the starting job partly because of his defense on Brandon Ingram). However, his lack of being an offensive threat saw the Warriors and Nuggets basically ignore him on defense during the playoffs, something that could limit his impact against the league’s top teams and in the playoffs.
This is a win-win deal. The Lakers are going to be big and difficult to play against this season because of their size, and Vanderbilt will be a key part of that. Now he will get compensated for that performance.