Following the latest move from the Nets to bring on LaMarcus Aldridge, Lakers CEO and president Jeanie Buss delivered a loud and clear message to her team’s East Coast rival.
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“It brings out the best in us,” Buss said Monday while appearing on Stephen A’s World on ESPN+. “When teams identify us as the team to beat and they gear up to go at us head-to-head, that makes us work harder.
“So, bring it on.”
Both Aldridge and Blake Griffin — who have 13 All-Star selections combined — signed with the Nets after reaching buyout deals, joining Kyrie Irving as well as former MVPs Kevin Durant and James Harden.
The moves — combined with injuries to Lakers stars LeBron James and Anthony Davis — have shifted the Nets to the championship favorite at +225, per Odds Shark. The Lakers are next at +300, followed by the Clippers (+550).
Nets Respond to Lakers Strong Message
The Nets had nothing but good things to say when asked about the message from Buss.
“They are a great team, great franchise, defending champs,” said Nets head coach Steve Nash, who played for the Lakers at the end of his career. “So, they are the team to beat.
“We just try to improve every day, in-house and with our player personnel. They [Lakers] have been fantastic.”
Aldridge said he wasn’t phased by the comments and rarely pays attention to the unnecessary commentary.
“I don’t follow any of that stuff,” Aldridge said. “If you’ve followed me during my career I don’t really read clippings and all those types of things. I had no clue about it. Just here to play basketball. I’m older, so it’s an opportunity to be on a winning team and bring some things that I think can help — and that’s all it is.”
Lakers Have Been Active Shoppers As Well
All that’s not to say that the Lakers have been quiet. After a big splash via trade never materialized, the Lakers turned their sights to the buyout market, where they were able to reel in big man Andre Drummond.
“The addition of Andre Drummond, who we picked up in the buyout market, will certainly fortify a season where we’ve had to deal with injuries and COVID,” Buss said. “Having Marc Gasol, who is our starting center, was out for several weeks with COVID and a really tough case where he was on a minutes restriction even though he’s back in the lineup.”
Drummond will take over a role in the starting lineup, sending slowing veteran Marc Gasol to the bench.
“Marc’s had a difficult run with the health and safety protocols and some other things,” Lakers head coach Frank Vogel told reporters Tuesday. “He’s loved here. These guys respect him so much. He’s been a true pro in handling this. We’re going to need all three of our centers throughout this playoff push, this championship run, hopefully. And he’s a true pro.”
Drummond will make his debut on Wednesday night against the Milwaukee Bucks.