Lakers Made Fateful Promise to Free Agent Big Man: Report

Getty Images Anthony Davis and Andre Drummond of the Los Angeles Lakers.

When the Los Angeles Lakers signed free agent center Andre Drummond, the team made what would be a fateful promise to the former All-Star, saying he would start for the defending champs.

The long-assumed promise from the Lakers was confirmed recently by Marc Stein of the New York Times. He wrote that “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.”

Drummond sliding into the starting lineup created quite the conundrum for the Lakers, who were trying to balance the minutes between Drummond, Montrezl Harrell and Marc Gasol. The situation came to a head in the postseason, where Harrell was rarely used and Drummond was benched in Game 6.

Drummond appeared to reference the benching in a tweet prior to the game, writing, “Remember kids. Control what you can control and let the rest take care of itself.”

The Drummond experiment wasnʻt a huge failure. He gave the Lakers something similar to what Dwight Howard and JaVale McGee did during the title run, but had a much harder time finding his niche in purple and gold. Drummond averaged 11.9 points and 10.2 rebounds in 22 games.

“Dre was great for us,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel said. “Let me start by saying that. We’re hopeful that he’s a Laker for a long time. He played well for us, and was a good culture fit. He fit in well with the guys and was very well-liked. We just … we said it all all along: We were concerned about how much time we would have to build the cohesion necessary for the playoffs, and with AD being out and Bron really only getting two games with Drum before the playoffs began, we just didn’t have that time to build the cohesiveness that we wanted.”

Andre Drummond Unsure of Return to Lakers

While the Lakers have been very clear about wanting Drummond back next season, the big man has not been as firm about returning to the team — although that could just be a negotiating tactic.

“August is around the corner, and when the time comes to have those discussions, I’ll have those discussions,” Drummond said about his free agency decision.

He did reflect on his time in LA positively, however.

“I think overall, this year, I had an incredible time in the short stint that I was here,” Drummond said in his exit interview. “There was a lot put on me when I first got here. There was a lot for me to learn, a lot for me to catch up on, and a lot to make up for. Having two of the best players hurt and just trying to figure out an entire time with little time before a playoff run.

“I think I’ve learned so much just being around the coaching staff, being around my teammates. It’s an incredible group of guys that we have here. I’m looking forward to building more with them.”

Andre Drummond Wanted More Time With Anthony Davis

One thing that has Drummond intrigued about returning to the Lakers is the fact that heʻd get to play alongside perennial All-Star Anthony Davis.

Davis was limited to just 36 games last season, so he had limited time to build chemistry with Drummond.

“There were glimpses. We all saw it. There were bright spots throughout the year where we did play together and great things happened, but you can’t expect two guys that play in the paint to get adjusted in six weeks. It’s something that’s going to take some time,” Drummond said. “We’ve got to have a training camp together, preseason and even the regular season to work on things like that to build that kind of chemistry. But I think he and I did a great job of adjusting well to each other with the time that we had.”

Weʻll see if that partnership can get a second chance once free agency rolls around.

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