Andre Drummond didn’t even make it to halftime of his debut with the Lakers before a toenail came off and put the four-time rebounding leader back on the sideline as Los Angeles lost to Milwaukee.
LaMarcus Aldridge’s first game in a month, with Brooklyn, was quite a bit smoother — 11 points, nine rebounds and six assists for the former San Antonio player in a breezy win over Charlotte.
Both veterans joined their new teams after taking buyouts, adding to a list of other teams incorporating newcomers after deals before the trading deadline late last month. Some transitions have been rockier than others.
Chicago lost its first four games after acquiring two-time All-Star Nicola Vucevic from Orlando. Denver is 4-0 since getting Aaron Gordon from the Magic, who pivoted suddenly to a rebuild in an injury-plagued season.
“I wouldn’t judge that on the way he played,” Bulls guard Tomas Satoransky said, referring to Vucevic after Chicago ended a six-game losing streak with a 115-107 win over Aldridge and the Nets.
“It takes time to kind of adjust on players that came through and we didn’t have practice really before the first game. We’re trying to learn from film sessions, in the shootaround, how to play with each other.”
Drummond hadn’t played since Feb. 12 with Cleveland when the Lakers, already missing stars LeBron James and Anthony Davis, faced the Bucks on Wednesday.
The 27-year-old felt discomfort in his right foot in the first half, then finally took his shoe and sock off and didn’t see a nail on his big toe. Drummond hasn’t played since, and still wasn’t comfortable before Sunday’s 104-86 loss to the Clippers.
The acclimation process will take even longer now for a player who spent weeks in limbo awaiting a buyout.
“It was going to take some time for ’Dre to get acclimated anyway,” Markieff Morris said. “We won’t see the best of him probably until another 10, 15 games anyway as a player. No matter how much you work out, you don’t actually play in an NBA game, you won’t be the same.”
The Nets are working Aldridge and Blake Griffin, another buyout addition from Detroit, into their rotation while dealing with the on-again, off-again presence of point guard James Harden, who forced a trade from Houston in January. AP