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A whole lot of people were up in arms when the Los Angeles Lakers secured Andre Drummond on the buyout market after his tenure with the Cleveland Cavaliers came to an end. The general gripe — big market teams have an inherent advantage and can get players more easily than smaller market teams — certainly held water, but in the case of Drummond specifically, it turned out any fears that he would solidify a spot as L.A.’s main center were unfounded.
Drummond put up decent enough numbers in the regular season as a Laker — 11.9 points and 10.2 rebounds in 24.8 minutes per game, largely while LeBron James and Anthony Davis were working to come back from injury — but when the playoffs came around, he saw his impact get reduced before eventually losing his starting role and picking up a DNP-CD in the Lakers’ Game 6 loss against the Phoenix Suns.
In the latest edition of Marc Stein of the New York Times‘ newsletter, we got a little glimpse into how Los Angeles brought Drummond on board. Stein reports that Drummond was promised a starting job by the team in order to get him to join the team.
“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,” Stein reported. “By Game 6, Drummond was rooted to the bench, receiving zero minutes in an elimination game.”
Drummond is a good but limited player, and considering the way Deandre Ayton used his mobility to give him a headache in round one, it made sense that Frank Vogel would want to go with a more reliable option in a win-or-go-home game. This is not to say Drummond was the only person at fault for losing to the Suns, of course, but when the rubber hit the road, Vogel opted to go in a different direction. Now, the question is how this will impact his long-term prospects with the franchise, as the Lakers have said they view Drummond as a piece to their puzzle going forward.