Surgically Repaired Reserve Returning This Week

Los Angeles Lakers reserve point guard Gabe Vincent is slated to play in his first game with the team since December 20 on Sunday. Per Shams Charania of The Athletic, the 6-foot-3 UC Santa Barbara product is expected to return from his left knee effusion surgery in a showdown against the (probably) lottery-bound Brooklyn Nets, who are currently 28-45 and the Eastern Conference’s No. 11 seed, on Sunday. LA is in the midst of a six-game road trip.

One wonders just how big a part Vincent will actually play in head coach Darvin Ham’s rotations at this point. Health has limited his appearances with Los Angeles to a scant five bouts since signing he was poached from the Miami Heat over the summer on a three-year, $33 million deal.

His lineup replacement, buyout market signing Spencer Dinwiddie, has been coming on of late. Across his past four games (including two starts), LA’s new backup point guard is averaging 14.5 points on .471/.500/.944 shooting splits), three assists, 2.8 rebounds, 1.3 blocks and 0.5 steals. Overall, he’s been a bit erratic, averaging 6.7 points on .394/.386/.871 shooting splits, 2.8 assists, 1.5 rebounds, and 0.5 blocks a game.

Gabe Vincent Moses Moody Jarred Vanderbilt
Moses Moody #4 of the Golden State Warriors is guarded by Jarred Vanderbilt #2 and Gabe Vincent #7 of the Los Angeles Lakers at Chase Center on October 07, 2023 in San Francisco, California. Vincent…

Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

The 41-32 Lakers find themselves getting into a nice groove of late. The team is currently on a five-game win streak and has won seven of its last ten games, as it angles to potentially escape the Western Conference’s play-in tournament bracket. With just nine contests left on its regular season schedule, Los Angeles is 2.5 games behind the current sixth seed in the West, the 43-29 Dallas Mavericks.

Jovan Buha of The Athletic reveals that Vincent will travel with the Lakers for their third game of the road trip today, against a tough opponent, the 41-33 Indiana Pacers. The East’s No. 6 seed boasts a solid 21-15 home record this season. The Lakers are 14-20 on the road.

Vincent has registered pretty modest numbers so far this season. In his five healthy contests with the Lakers, he’s averaging 5.4 points on .375/.118/.500 shooting splits, three assists, 1.2 steals, and one rebound.

Across 22 games in his NBA Finals-bound playoff run with the Heat last spring and summer, he averaged 12.7 points on .402/.378/.882 shooting splits, 3.5 assists, 1.4 rebounds, and 0.9 steals a night. That is the Vincent that Los Angeles team president/general manager Rob Pelinka was no doubt hoping he was signing.

Ham has occasionally trotted out three-guard lineups to maximize his ball handling on the floor, especially when All-Star point forward LeBron James misses games here and there. It’s conceivable that Vincent can get some run, but one wonders if he’ll really play over Dinwiddie, given his recurrent health concerns this year.