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The Lakers will be adding Andre Drummond to their roster after he clears waivers Sunday afternoon, according to people with knowledge of the situation, reinforcing their front court now and adding a former all-star in their hunt to repeat as NBA champions.
Here are five quick takeaways on how Drummond fits with the Lakers:
1) The timing is right.
No disrespect to Drummond, but anyone with the ability to put the ball in the basket with any regularity would be a good fit with the Lakers at this point.
Minus injured superstars Anthony Davis and LeBron James, the Lakers’ offense has been good for just 100 points per 100 possessions, the second-worst rating over the last week. Although Drummond will not be a top offensive option for a team with real playoff hopes, he can be an important offensive option for a team in the situation the Lakers are in.
2) He helps close a talent gap.
The truth about the Lakers remains the same. If LeBron James and Anthony Davis are healthy, the team has a decent chance to repeat regardless of seeding. If those players aren’t healthy, Drummond isn’t going to matter.
By adding Drummond, the Lakers close the talent gap with the Brooklyn Nets a little. And if those two teams meet in the Finals, the Lakers are going to need an addition like Drummond to match their talent.
3) He adds a new dimension.
The Lakers aren’t adding George Mikan here, but they’re getting a good two-way center who has probably been undervalued over the last handful of seasons because he’s never played on a team with weapons like the Lakers have.
At full strength, he’ll give them a dimension the Lakers haven’t had this season — a big man who can operate at and above the rim, making him an ideal partner for James and Dennis Schroder in pick-and-roll sets.
And defensively, he’s an active player who blocks shots, gets steals and owns the glass — he's led the league in rebounding five times and is averaging 13.5 this season.
It's true he’s limited — he’s a miserable free-throw shooter who has struggled to finish his scoring opportunities this season. His reputation around the league isn’t great because of his wavering focus. But this situation is as good as any for him.
4) But there's some awkward stuff
There are some pretty big questions created by this signing, the most interesting of which is what the Lakers will do with current starting center Marc Gasol.
Assuming Drummond will bump Gasol out of the starting lineup, can the Lakers reasonably expect the veteran center to be comfortable as the team’s third center behind Montrezl Harrell, the anchor of the second unit, and Drummond?
Although the Lakers would benefit from keeping Gasol because he gives them intangibles on both sides of the court, it’s a big ask for a player as proud as he is to gracefully move to the end of the bench.
5) Does any of this matter?
It’s hard to say. In the short term, the Lakers definitely need any talent they can get their hands on, and with one empty roster spot, they need to keep looking.
Drummond is essentially a rental — he’ll be looking for a big contract this offseason — so don’t get too attached. But if the Lakers get healthy, he’ll help them.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.