Los Angeles Lakers center Marc Gasol admitted Friday night that he has been questioning his place on the team since Andre Drummond was added from the acquisition market last weekend.
Drummond was named a starter almost immediately upon arrival, and Gasol was relegated to the bench in a team that already has Montrezl Harrell, one of the leading Sixth Man of the Year candidates, playing as a backup center.
Gasol, speaking after the Lakers’ 115-94 victory over the Sacramento Kings on Friday, said he wasn’t sure how often his number will be called with Drummond in the fold.
“I think there’s a ‘yes’ – ‘yes’ they need you. And it’s a big ‘yes,'” Gasol said when asked about Lakers coach Frank Vogel, who repeatedly affirmed Gasol’s continued importance. “You are not Plan A right now. You are Plan C, D. … You have to accept it because that’s your job. And that’s what you sign up for. It’s never easy to accept that.”
With Drummond out of the lineup against the Kings, recovering from a broken nail in the big toe of his right foot, Gasol, 36, was pushed back into the starting lineup and contributed five points, nine rebounds, six assists and one steal. . His assists total was the second-highest on the team, behind just eight for point guard Dennis Schroder, and LA outscored Sacramento by 20 points in Gasol’s 28 minutes on the floor.
“I think people should understand how good Marc Gasol is as a player and how valuable he is to what we are doing,” Vogel said afterward. “And we are going to play with our most important players, so he will help us win a championship this year. That is the plan. That is the vision. Obviously, the arrival of Andre gives us the depth. But we are going to need all three. one of those guys. We said it from day 1, and Marc is one of our most important players. He dominated the game tonight with five points, okay? And this is what Marc brings to the table. “
Gasol had previously refused to speak to reporters three times since Los Angeles signed Drummond and clearly still harbored some frustration Friday over the franchise’s decision by breaking his silence on the fly.
“Things can change quickly in the NBA, just as they have changed for me,” Gasol said when asked if he wanted to stay with the Lakers or pursue a purchase on his own. “But I’m committed to this team. It’s a tough pill to swallow because I know I’ll be out of the lineup at some point. It’s never easy for a player. As a basketball player, you want to play. You want to contribute, especially when you made that commitment for that reason. But we’ll see. “
Gasol signed a two-year deal with defending champion Lakers in the offseason to follow in the footsteps of his older brother, Pau Gasol, and help Los Angeles lift another Larry O’Brien Trophy. His intention was not just to be part of a championship team, but to play and make his skills lift the entire group in his quest for the ultimate prize.
He arrived Friday averaging his career lows in points (4.8), rebounds (3.9), field goal percentage (40.3%) and minutes (19.5) and recently grappled with COVID-19 hiring, causing him to miss nine. consecutive games.
As Vogel alluded to, Gasol’s value to the Lakers was based more on the team’s overall performance than his individual numbers, and the team ranked No. 1 in the league in defensive efficiency for most of the season with the former Defensive Player of the Year in office. half.
“You wonder if you’ve done something wrong when you’re trying to do everything for the team,” he said. “It’s pretty obvious that I don’t care much about my stats and the shots I get or the rebounds I get. I try to beat my boy and make the next play, help everyone. It’s not easy, but it’s life. You have to adapt. Like I said, either you take it as a challenge or you move on. “
Vogel said Gasol will continue to have a role in Los Angeles and detailed how he and the organization will join him as Gasol adjusts to the lineup.
“The approach is full support,” Vogel said. “It’s hard to see that your role is going to change: How can we support you? And make sure they understand that they are a vital piece, as Marc is a vital piece for us to win the championship this year. And there is no other way to see it. “.