June 23, 2024

Lakers guard Gabe Vincent, the team’s top free-agent acquisition during the summer, had successful arthroscopic surgery on his left knee Wednesday. The Lakers announced that he will be reevaluated by team doctors in approximately eight weeks.

The Lakers signed Vincent to a three-year contract worth $33 million during the offseason, viewing him as a top priority to help their backcourt.

But an issue with the knee has kept Vincent, 27, from being able to contribute much. He’s played just five games, averaging 5.4 points on 37.5% shooting and just 11.8% on three-pointers, with 3.0 assists in 25.4 minutes per game.

“It’s definitely impactful. But on the flip side of that, we’re pleased that now it’s going to be a huge light at the end of the tunnel, in terms of him getting his stuff cleaned up,” coach Darvin Ham said after practice Wednesday. “We’ll check on him, nurse him back to health and get ready for a big contribution once he’s cleared.”

Vincent played in the first four games but then missed the next 24 after experiencing swelling in his knee. He returned last week against the Chicago Bulls but missed the next three games because of swelling, and that eventually led to him having the procedure.

Ham said he talked to Vincent during the Lakers’ stop in Oklahoma City and encouraged the guard to get the treatment he needed.

“Yeah, I told him in OKC , ‘You have to do what you got to do man so you can put this behind you and that’s the biggest thing.’ Like, trying to manage it and do different things, have these little micro setbacks, it’s like it’s too much,” Ham said. “So, the fact that we can go ahead and get it alleviated and put it behind us, it’s great for him, great for us.”

The Lakers signed Vincent because of the very good campaign he had with the Miami Heat last season. He played a big role in the Heat reaching the NBA Finals, producing 12.7 points, 3.5 assists and shooting 37.8% from three-point range during the playoffs.

The Lakers' Jarred Vanderbilt reacts to a call with arms up.

The Lakers’ Jarred Vanderbilt is going to be seeing more action with Gabe Vincent sidelined.

(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

The Lakers had high hopes that the 6-foot-2 combo guard would be able to provide them the same strong play.

“It obviously hurt. He’s a big component of what we do,” forward Jarred Vanderbilt said. “Great player, great system player. So, obviously health comes first. So, we want him to get healthy. For us, it’s the next-man-up mentality. Continue to play the right way and have some guys step up in his absence.”

Vanderbilt will be expected to be one of those players who step into a bigger role. The defensive ace became a starter two games ago, replacing D’Angelo Russell. The Lakers (16-15) are 1-1 with the new lineup, winning at Oklahoma City and losing to the Boston Celtics on Christmas Day.

There is much work to be done, and it’ll continue Thursday night when they play Charlotte at home.

“It felt good,” Vanderbilt said about the new lineup. “I mean, obviously short sample size. We finally got to have our first practice [Wednesday] with that lineup. Having that lineup out there with no practice, I think it was pretty solid. But now that we started to put some sets in and build some chemistry with that lineup due to a couple of practices, I think it’ll only get better.”

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