Andre Drummond will enjoy the spotlight when he debuts for the Los Angeles Lakers facing the Milwaukee Bucks at Staples Center on Wednesday night. From his very first moment donning the Purple and Gold jersey, the 27-year-center will become the new starting center for L.A. taking Marc Gasol’s spot in the lineup.
The Spaniard has gone through a few rough weeks. He first battled the coronavirus (COVID-19), ruling him out of nine games in March. And after Drummond signed with the Lakers having had his contract bought out by the Cleveland Cavaliers, he is expected to see a significant reduction of his role in an already difficult season.
Gasol is averaging 4.8 points and 3.9 rebounds in just 19.8 minutes per game. Those stats, already career lows, can only drop following Drummond’s arrival. But head coach Frank Vogel assures the 36-year-old center still has a place in L.A. “Marc has had a difficult run with the health and safety protocols and some other things,” he said.
“All I can say is he’s loved here. These guys respect him so much and he’s been a true pro in handling this. Like I said, we’re going to need all three of our centers throughout this playoff push, this championship run hopefully. He’s a true pro.”
And when asked whether Gasol could potentially ask the Lakers to buy him out, Vogel replied: “We have not talked about that.”
Vogel’s roster adjustments in between playoff series were crucial to the Lakers’ pursuit of the 17th title in franchise history last year. And he is looking forward to using the depth of his team again this postseason. “I think we saw the flexibility we have as a coaching staff from playoff series to playoff series,” he said.
“Get different guy’s skillsets to match different opponents,” he added before reiterating he counts on using all three of his centers in the later stages of the 2020-21 campaign.
Vogel hopes Drummond will stay with Lakers beyond 2020-21
Treading on the verge of hitting the hard cap, the Lakers could only sign Drummond after he accepted a minimum contract following the buyout. But the center will certainly demand more money when he enters free agency in the summer – particularly if he does well in L.A.
But Vogel remains hopeful both sides will be able to come to an agreement that will tie Drummond to the Lakers for years to come. “This summer will play out and we’ll let that happen when it happens, but we want him to help us during this championship run this season,” he said.
“But we’re hopeful that he’s a Laker for a long time to come. That’s what we’re envisioning and we think he’s going to be a key piece for us both in the short team and in the long term.”
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