LOS ANGELES (AP) – Andre Drummond is joining the Los Angeles Lakers for the playoff push.
The Lakers announced the signing of the two-time All-Star centre less than an hour before Sunday night’s game against the Orlando Magic. Drummond announced his decision with a post on his Instagram account earlier in the day, writing “Back to work” underneath an illustration of himself in a Lakers uniform.
Drummond agreed to a buyout on Friday from the Cleveland Cavaliers, who acquired the four-time NBA rebounding champion last year after nearly eight seasons in Detroit. He had to clear waivers before he could join a team of his choosing, and Drummond chose to link up with LeBron James, Anthony Davis and the defending NBA champions.
“We’re all thrilled. He’s one of the best centres in the league and someone every defensive coordinator is going to have to account for while trying to slow down LeBron, AD and our guards when we get going,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel said after Sunday’s 96-93 victory over the Magic. “He can dominate on both sides and his physicality is something they have to account for.”
Vogel said he wasn’t sure if Drummond would be available for the Lakers’ next game, which is tomorrow against the Milwaukee Bucks.
Drummond is almost certain to get his first significant NBA postseason playing time with the Lakers after appearing in only eight playoff games — and losing all eight — in two postseason trips with the Pistons.
When Drummond gets up to playing speed after sitting out the past six weeks, the two-time All-Star Game selection should be a notable upgrade at centre for Los Angeles, which won a competition with several contenders for his services over the weekend.
Veteran Marc Gasol played inconsistently for the Lakers even before he returned recently from a three-and-a-half-week bout with coronavirus, while six-foot-eight Montrezl Harrell is undersized for the biggest defensive assignments in the middle.
“I really believe we are going to need all three of those guys and we will use all three of them with the condensed schedule and the playoffs coming up,” Vogel said.
Harrell knows Drummond is eager to play, especially after his long layoff, but hasn’t considered the lineup implications.
“Everything comes from the top office and coaching staff. I am going to keep playing the way I can play,” he said. “We got a great player who is going to help our team
Davis also plays centre in many postseason matchups, but Drummond’s rebounding and interior scoring should immediately boost the Lakers as they attempt to hang on to a top seed in the Western Conference without James and Davis. James is out indefinitely with a sprained right ankle, while Davis hasn’t played since February 14 due to a right calf injury.
Drummond is averaging 17.5 points, 13.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists in 25 starts for the Cavs this season. He hasn’t played since February 12, when Cleveland benched him to give more playing time to youngster Jarrett Allen.
Drummond would be second in the league in rebounds per game to Atlanta’s Clint Capela if he had played enough games to qualify among the league leaders. His 4.0 offensive rebounds per game would be third in the NBA.
The Lakers currently rank ninth in the NBA in rebounds per game (45.1), but just 17th in offensive rebounds (9.6).