In one of the more surprising moves of free agency, big man Andre Drummond agreed to a one-year deal at the veteran's minimum to play for the Philadelphia 76ers, and more importantly, become teammates with Joel Embiid. That wouldn't be so newsworthy if the two didn't have past dust-ups before, which typically resulted in Embiid outplaying Drummond whenever the two matched up against each other, which led to the Sixers franchise star trolling him on social media.
But the past is the past, and at least according to Drummond, it was never that deep anyway.
"I think for me there was never any real beef," Drummond said. "At the end of the day, it's the game of basketball. It's a heated game. We're both competitive. The way we play is we, sometimes we talk. I don't think it goes any further than that. I don't think there's any real beef, or malice towards each other. It's part of the game. We're on the same team now. It's not something I'm thinking about or anything that's really bothering me."
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While it always appeared to just be a friendly rivalry between the two All-Star big men, they certainly put in a lot of effort over the years to continue to fan the flames. This includes Embiid saying Drummond doesn't play any defense, and waving him off the court in glee after Drummond fouled out during a meeting of the two in 2017. Drummond has also called out Embiid for not being able to play in back-to-backs due to his one lengthy injury list. The two always jabbed at each other, but never hit below the belt. Now, that trash talking will be put to the side while the two try and chase a championship together with the Sixers.
However, the Embiid-Drummond "beef" isn't the only reason this pairing is a little head-scratching. Drummond, who is a two-time All-Star, and led the league in rebounds in four different seasons, has started in 91 percent of the games he's played since he entered the league in 2012. Even during a subpar stint with the Lakers this past season, Drummond was still a fixture in the starting lineup in every game.
With Embiid the established starting center and now an MVP finalist, in all likelihood that means that Drummond would be coming off the bench for the first time since his rookie season in Detroit. However, Sixers coach Doc Rivers could plan on running a jumbo lineup out there with Drummond and Embiid both starting. But that's not something Drummond is concerned about.
"I think for me, making the decision to come to Philly was based off Doc really having the faith in me to really help this team do something special," Drummond said. "Whatever my role is, me coming off the bench in the prime of my career, it doesn't really matter. I can still be effective coming off the bench and backing up Joel. I think it was a no-brainer. I've always wanted to play for Doc. When I got the chance to play for him, I took the chance."
It's a pretty good get for the Sixers, especially since Drummond will be making the veteran's minimum, so if at the end of the day it doesn't work out, they won't be financially strapped to him long term. Having Drummond coming off the bench is also an improvement to their frontcourt depth, something that was a glaring issue against the Hawks in the second round of the playoffs. It forced Embiid to play huge minutes while dealing with a torn meniscus, which given his injury history isn't ideal. With Drummond, it'll allow Embiid to get some necessary rest during games for longer periods of time without Philadelphia having to surrender size in the paint.
This could end up being a really good signing for the Sixers in the short term, but we'll have to wait for the regular season to see how it works out.