Andre Drummond received a long sought-after buyout during the 2020-21 NBA season and figured to have numerous suitors lined up for his services. He wound up choosing the Los Angeles Lakers, a move that by the time it happened, surprised nobody. Even before his buyout, rumors tying him to L.A. were growing exponentially.
Even though there were multiple teams who could offer him more money — and some teams that could offer more minutes — it seemed inevitable that Drummond would end up with the Lakers. Then, shortly after his buyout was finalized, Drummond officially signed with the Lakers and was immediately placed in the starting lineup over Marc Gasol.
Perhaps the best explanation for all of this is the surfacing rumor that the Lakers potentially promised Drummond a starting spot before he signed with the team, Marc Stein of The New York Times reported in his weekly newsletter:
The Lakers promised Drummond a starting role to secure his commitment in free agency, according to two people familiar with the situation who were not authorized to discuss it publicly.
If this is true, it certainly explains why Drummond to the Lakers always felt so obvious rather than him going to another team. At the time, it felt as though Drummond could get more money and/or a bigger role elsewhere. However, that is no longer the case if the Lakers promised him the starting role.
It also could be a reason why the Lakers didn’t stray from starting Drummond until the very last game of the season. Drummond played in 26 games for the Lakers this season and was the starting center in all 26. If he didn’t start, he didn’t play at all.
While this type of thing is relatively common in the NBA, there is some cause for concern as to whether or not this created tension in the locker room among Gasol and Montrezl Harrell. Promising another player the starting center position on a team that already has two centers could have been very frustrating.
Now, with Harrell and Drummond both potentially hitting free agency and Gasol’s future looking uncertain, the Lakers will need to once again re-stock the center position.
Drummond called short stint with Lakers incredible
While Harrell and Gasol may have had their issues, Drummond was extremely happy about his short tenure in L.A. He spoke about it, almost accidentally committing to re-sign with the team this summer. “I think overall this year I had an incredible time in the short stint that I was here. There was a lot put on me when I first got here. A lot for me to learn, a lot to catch up on and a lot to make up for. Two of the best players hurt and just trying to figure out an entire team with little time to help adjust to a playoff run.
“I think I’ve learned so much just being around the coaching staff and my teammates. An incredible group of guys we have here. We’re looking forward to building more with them.”
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