Marc Gasol may have just turned his best effort since joining the Los Angeles Lakers in Tuesday’s 110-101 win over the Toronto Raptors, but LA coach Frank Vogel remained determined: Andre Drummond is the team’s starting center.
“No, we’re starting Andre. That’s what we signed him for here,” Vogel said. “We have to come [Drummond] a ton of minutes to get him used to our system with only X number of games before the playoffs and he will be our starter. … [Gasol’s performance] does not change it. “
Vogel made his remarks after being asked if Gasol’s performance on Tuesday gave him anything to reconsider. Gasol had 13 season highs and tied his season highs with nine rebounds and four blocks, helping the Lakers build a 34-point lead.
Gasol, who initially pushed for a role change and told reporters last week that Drummond̵
“I will stay ready. I will tell you this: I am fully committed to the team. I will be ready when my number gets called up,” Gasol said. “I understand we need to get Andre to get used to what we’re trying to do. We need to get our two most important guys back – Bron [LeBron James] and AD [Anthony Davis] every time they come back – and they have to get that group started and get some chemistry started with the first unit for them. I’m ready for whatever happens. No matter if it’s five minutes, 10 minutes, whether it’s whatever position. If it’s some nights, I might not play. But I’m getting ready no matter what. I committed.
“It has been a process for me to re-evaluate this situation a bit, but like I said, I am fully committed to this team. So whatever is thrown at me, I will be ready.”
Drummond has missed the Lakers’ last three games since his debut due to a bruised big toe and torn toenail on his right foot. Vogel said Drummond attended LA’s practice in Tampa Bay, Florida, on Monday, but still experienced some “soreness” in his toe before the Toronto game.
“We’re hoping he plays against Miami,” Vogel said of Drummond, looking forward to the Lakers’ next game on the schedule, Thursday against the Heat.
Vogel insisted that “all three of these guys” – Drummond, Gasol and Montrezl Harrell – who play center for LA will be needed as the team marches towards the post season in hopes of defending its championship.
As for Gasol, who have averaged 9.7 points on 60% shooting, 7 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 1.7 blocks in the last three games that Drummond missed while the Lakers went 2-1, gave 36- the yearling a reminder of what he has left in the tank.
“You know I can make a few shots. I can play in the post. I can give the ball,” he said. “I can do a few things quite well now and then.”