As hoop heads wait for the inevitable championship showdown between the Los Angeles Lakers and Brooklyn Nets, the Nets made a power move over the weekend with the acquisition of seven-time All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge.
Aldridge, who agreed to a buyout with his previous employer, the San Antonio Spurs, joins a loaded Nets roster that already includes Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant, James Harden and newly acquired forward Blake Griffin.
But not to be outdone, the Lakers countered with a move of their own, acquiring two-time All-Star Andre Drummond two days after he agreed to a contract buyout with the Cleveland Cavaliers. And because no relationship is official until you announce it on social media, the 27-year-old did exactly that Sunday on Instagram.
“Back to work,” he wrote, with a picture of him rocking the Lakers’ signature purple and gold.
So how does coach Frank Vogel feel about adding the 6-foot, 10-inch rebounding machine to a Lakers squad depleted by significant injuries to LeBron James and Anthony Davis? I think it’s safe to say that he’s elated.
“We’re all thrilled to add Andre Drummond, a player of his caliber, to our team,” Vogel told reporters following the Lakers’ 96-93 win over the Orlando Magic on Sunday night. “He’s one of the best centers in the league, someone that every defensive coordinator is going to have to account for and to figure out how to handle him when they’re trying to slow down [Anthony Davis] and [LeBron James] and our guards.”
He continued, “I think he’s going to give us a big lift in the immediate future, and then obviously when we get going. He can dominate the game on both sides of the ball. His physicality is something you have to account for. I think our team got a lot better.”
The Celtics were reportedly also in the running to land Drummond. But when you have players like LeBron and Davis lobbying for your services, as well as the opportunity to start on a defending NBA champion, how do you say no? The Celtics never had a chance.
So how do the Lakers and Nets stack up after bolstering each of their frontcourts by acquiring two of the biggest names on the buyout market? Drummond will help significantly in keeping the team afloat while King James and Davis recover from their respective injuries, providing the Lakers with a two-way threat can both block shots and dismantle his opponents in pick-and-roll sets. His focus and discipline leave much to be desired, and he can be a liability in crunch time at the free-throw line, but the positives outweigh the negatives and he undoubtedly provides the Lakers with an upgrade at a position of need.
As for the Nets, is there any room left on that Infinity Gauntlet? Because goddamn.
With Aldridge’s signing, Brooklyn’s roster has 41 combined All-Star appearances (only the Celtics in 2010-11 and 2011-12 have surpassed that total since the NBA-ABA merger) and is officially in the running for the most talented team in NBA history. And as if they didn’t already have enough firepower, they now have a center that can stretch the floor and provide rim protection.
This is a tall order for rookie coach Steve Nash, who has yet to fully integrate new acquisition Blake Griffin and still needs to find chemistry between Irving, Harden and Durant once Durant returns from a hamstring injury that’s cost him extensive time. But this embarrassment of riches is a good problem to have, and Nash seems more than up to the task.
The NBA Finals can’t come soon enough.