Marc Gasol has gone from the Los Angeles Lakers‘ starting lineup to the bench, which hasn’t been an easy situation to stomach for the 36-year-old Spaniard, who had started all but 17 games in his NBA career prior.
Gasol played a season-low six minutes in mop-up time Thursday against the Bucks, seeing his spot in the starting lineup taken by newly-signed big man Andre Drummond. Gasol declined to speak to the media after the loss to Milwaukee, which has been par for the course since Drummond joined the team.
But Gasol’s teammates have sympathy for him and respect how he’s dealt with the demotion.
“Obviously, it’s not easy by any means. Give that man his credit,” Lakers guard Wes Matthews told reporters on Wednesday. “We love what we do and we compete and we’re ultra competitors, and that’s never easy for anybody in that position.
Wes Matthews said Marc Gasol has handled the change to his role and having to sub in during the 4th quarter professionally and how he would expect him to. "Obviously it's not easy, by any means. Give that man his credit. … It's never easy to step up like he did."
— Kyle Goon (@kylegoon) April 1, 2021
“For him to step up like he did and make the plays that he made and to be there and supportive of us the whole time, I mean, I got nothing but respect for him.”
Andre Drummond’s Injury Not Serious
Drummond was injured in his Lakers debut, losing a toenail after Bucks center Brook Lopez stepped on his right foot. While there were initial fears that the injury would be significant, Drummond is expected to only miss a game or two, per ESPN.
“I didn’t really think anything of it,” Drummond told reporters after the game. “I came back in the second quarter and it was hurting a little bit more. And then after halftime, I finally took my sock off to look and my whole toenail was gone. So, it was just all bad from there. I couldn’t walk or run. So I just told Coach [Frank Vogel] to take me out.”
Drummond was limited to just 14 minutes in his debut, scoring four points and grabbing just a pair of rebounds. However, he was still ecstatic about the opportunity to wear purple and gold, which he expressed on Twitter.
“Well I lost a toenail but still felt incredible wearing the purple and gold!! Be back soon.”
Well I lost a toe nail 🙄🙄😂 but still felt incredible wearing the purple and gold!! Be back soon 💜💛 @Lakers
— Andre Drummond (@AndreDrummond) April 2, 2021
Drummond was the crown jewel of the buyout market and can still make an impact for the Lakers, despite his lackluster first showing. It should be noted, it was his first action since February 12 and Drummond is a walking double-double most nights. He’s averaging 17 points and 13 rebounds this season.
Lakers Can Be Flexibile With Larger Lineups
With Drummond out, the Lakers will likely move Gasol back into the starting lineup. But for the long-term, Lakers coach Frank Vogel can see Gasol and Montrezl Harrell playing together off the bench.
“It’s a lineup that I think can work,” Vogel said. “We haven’t really had a need to go to that up to this point in the season, but it’s definitely something we’re going to look at… the way it (would) work is, offensively, Marc is basically the 4 with Trezz being the 5 and, defensively, Marc’s the 5 and Trezz is the 4. It’s something that I’m actually excited to see.”
The shorthanded Lakers take on the Kings on Friday as a 4.5-point underdog to the 22-26 Sacramento squad.