Lakers Rumors: Andre Drummond Expected to Start at Center over Marc Gasol

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistMarch 30, 2021

FILE - In this Feb. 12, 2020, file photo, Cleveland Cavaliers' Andre Drummond plays against the Atlanta Hawks in the first half of an NBA basketball gamein Cleveland. General manager Koby Altman wasn't necessarily in the market for another front court player, not with Tristan Thompson, Kevin Love and Larry Nance Jr. already on the roster. But he said the chance to add a player of Drummond's caliber, a versatile, rebounding machine and proven veteran who will make the Cavs' younger players better immediately and perhaps in the future, was too enticing.(AP Photo/Tony Dejak, File)
Tony Dejak/Associated Press

Andre Drummond is reportedly "expected to start" at center over Marc Gasol after signing with the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday following his buyout from the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Jovan Buha of The Athletic reported the expectations Monday, though Lakers head coach Frank Vogel wouldn't confirm what he discussed with Drummond about the role he'll fill.

"I have talked to him personally," Vogel said. "He's really excited about this situation. I don't want to go too far into the nature of those private conversations other than to say that he's really excited—probably excited as we are. I think our team got a lot better."

In the short term, Drummond provides a major boost to the lineup with LeBron James and Anthony Davis both sidelined by injuries. L.A. had lost four straight games after James was injured early in a March 20 loss to the Atlanta Hawks before righting the ship with wins over the Cavs and Orlando Magic.

James is reportedly expected to miss four-to-six weeks with a high-ankle sprain and Vogel said Davis, who's been out of the lineup since Feb. 14 with calf and Achilles injuries, is still a "ways away" from returning.

Those marquee absences will make it difficult for the Lakers to keep pace with the top teams in the loaded Western Conference. Their focus is likely more on trying to stay inside the top six of the standings to avoid the play-in tournament before the playoffs.

Drummond can be a high-volume player for the next month or so to help that quest.

In the bigger picture, his offensive role will eventually fade a bit once James and Davis are healthy, but he'll still be an important rebounder and shot-blocker for Los Angeles in the postseason.

The exact role he is going to play wasn't immediately clear since the Lakers could have kept Gasol in the starting lineup and then used Drummond off the bench, where he could get more offensive touches with the second unit and then play the critical minutes alongside the starters.

Instead, it sounds like he'll be a full-time starter, and that puts him in line to earn more minutes overall.

"He's one of the most dominant rollers, lob catchers, post players, offensive rebounders in the game. Screeners," Vogel said. "The list is long for how he's gonna contribute to our group and, you know, I do think he's gonna have an impact on our group right away offensively."

The Lakers are back in action Wednesday night against the Milwaukee Bucks, but it's unclear when Drummond will make his team debut.

Along with having to clear COVID-19 protocols, he also hasn't played since Feb. 12 as the Cavs sat him out while seeking a trade that never materialized. So L.A. might want to make sure he gets back up to full speed with a couple of practices before being put back into game action.

Los Angeles heads out on a seven-game road trip after the clash with the Bucks starting with Friday night's game against the Sacramento Kings.