The Los Angeles Lakers signing center Andre Drummond on the buyout market was a big move for the team as he brings things that they were missing in the middle. What is unclear, however, is what it means for the rest of the Lakers’ frontcourt rotation, namely Marc Gasol.
Things have not gone quite as anticipated for the big man this season as he has struggled to make a major impact for much of the year. But Gasol seems to have found his stride recently and his playmaking and IQ have been greatly needed in the absence of LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
Drummond’s addition will obviously impact and lessen Gasol’s role, especially as Drummond was inserted into the starting lineup for his first appearance in Purple and Gold against the Milwaukee Bucks.
Gasol was out of the rotation on that night, but due to Drummond’s injury, played in the fourth quarter and again, had a good outing. Gasol then returned to the starting lineup against the Kings and put forth another good all-around performance.
Despite the uncertainty of his role going forward, Gasol remains professional and committed to this team. “Things can change quickly in the NBA just as they have changed for me, but I’m committed to this team,” Gasol said.
“It’s a hard pill to swallow because I know I’m moving out of the lineup at some point and that’s never easy on a player. As a basketball player, you want to play. You want to contribute, especially when you make that commitment for that reason, but we’ll see.”
Gasol is making it very difficult for Frank Vogel to keep him out of the rotation. The difference on offense has been clear and while he is not the traditional rim protector, he is always in the right spot on defense. The question is how Vogel will manage minutes for his loaded frontcourt.
Drummond, Gasol and Montrezl Harrell all bring completely different things to the center position while Kyle Kuzma and Markieff Morris are consistently making an impact as well. It will almost surely be matchup dependent and that could lead to inconsistencies in playing time for Gasol and others.
The big man may not prefer it, but he will remain ready to contribute whatever the Lakers need, even though he knows that he may be out of the rotation at times.
“I think there’s an asterisk to that. I think there’s an ‘if.’ If they need you, and it’s a big ‘if.’ You are not Plan A right now. You are Plan C, D and that’s not like I said, you have to accept it.
“That’s your job and that’s what you signed up to do, but it’s never easy to accept that, especially when you’ve asked if you’ve done something wrong when you try to do everything for the team. You don’t care, obviously, I think it’s pretty obvious, I don’t care much about my stats and the shots I get or rebounds that I get. I try to box my guy out or make the next play and help everyone out, so it’s not easy. It’s life. You have to adapt. Like I said, you take it as a challenge or you move on.”
There has been some rumors about Gasol being bought out to go somewhere that he can have a bigger role. While Frank Vogel has denied any talks of that happening, it’s clear that Gasol is not happy right now. A buyout still seems unlikely as he stated his commitment to the Lakers, but the deadline is just around the corner on April 9, so it will definitely be something to keep an eye on.
Vogel discusses potential Gasol-Harrell frontcourt pairing
One potential way for Gasol to remain in the rotation is to pair him with Harrell. It is a lineup that Vogel has yet to turn to, but that may not be the case for much longer. “Yeah, it’s a lineup I think can work,” Vogel said recently.
“We haven’t had a need to go to that up to this point in the season, but it’s definitely something we’re going to look at. [T]he way it would work is Marc is basically offensively the four with Trezz being a five and defensively Marc is the five and Trezz is the four.”
The skillsets of the two Lakers bigs can potentially mesh well on paper. Gasol operates on the perimeter more often than not, leaving the paint open for Harrell to operate. With so many front-court possibilities, Vogel will surely experiment with every one of them to find what works best.
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