Lakers' Marc Gasol 'Fully Committed' Despite Losing Starting Job to Andre Drummond

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVApril 7, 2021

SACRAMENTO, CA - APRIL 2: Marc Gasol #14 of the Los Angeles Lakers looks on during the game against the Sacramento Kings on April 2, 2021 at Golden 1 Center in Sacramento, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2021 NBAE (Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)
Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images

Los Angeles Lakers center Marc Gasol said he's "fully committed" to the team despite losing his spot in the starting lineup after the signing of Andre Drummond.

Gasol starred with 13 points, nine rebounds, five assists and four blocks as a starter in  Tuesday's 110-101 win over the Toronto Raptors with Drummond sidelined by a toe injury. The three-time All-Star told reporters he understands his role will change when everybody is at full strength:

"I'll stay ready. I'm going to tell you this: I'm fully committed to the team. I'll stay ready when my number is called. I understand we have to get Andre acclimated to what we're trying to do. We have to get back our two main guys    Bron [LeBron James] and AD [Anthony Davis] whenever they come back    and they have to get that group going and get some chemistry going with the first unit for them. I'll be ready no matter what happens. No matter if it's five minutes, 10 minutes, if it's whatever position. If it's some nights, I might not play. But I'll stay ready, no matter what. I made that commitment.

"It's been a process for me to reassess this situation a little bit, but like I said, I'm fully committed to this team. So, whatever is thrown at me, I'll be ready."

The addition of Drummond was viewed as a potential game-changer as the Lakers attempt to avoid a slide down the Western Conference standings while James and Davis are out of the lineup. He played just 14 minutes in his team debut last Wednesday before suffering the toe injury, though.

That has thrust Gasol back into the spotlight, and the 36-year-old has responded well by averaging 9.7 points, 7.0 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 1.7 blocks in 24.5 minutes over the past three games.

Lakers head coach Frank Vogel confirmed after beating the Raptors the team's plans haven't changed despite the veteran center's strong play.

"No, we're going to start Andre. That's what we signed him here for," Vogel said. "We need to get [Drummond] a ton of minutes to get him acclimated to our system with only X amount of games before the playoffs, and he'll be our starter. ... [Gasol's performance] doesn't change that."

Vogel added the team will use all three of its centers, a group that also includes reigning Sixth Man of the Year Montrezl Harrell, during the stretch run of the regular season. Gasol said he's going to let his play speak for itself in the battle for playing time.

"You know, I can make a couple shots. I can play in the post. I can pass the ball," the 6'11", 255-pound Spaniard said. "I can do a couple things quite well every now and then."

Vogel noted the team is "hopeful" Drummond can return for Thursday's clash with the Miami Heat.

The Lakers, who are 4-6 over their past 10 games, have dropped to fifth in the Western Conference with a 32-19 record. They want to stay in the top six to avoid the play-in tournament before the playoffs and own a three-game edge over the seventh-placed Dallas Mavericks (28-21).

L.A.'s talent level can still match up with any team in the NBA, but it'll need a full-strength roster for the postseason, led by a healthy James and Davis, if it wants to defend its 2020 championship.