The rumors connecting the Los Angeles Lakers to center Andre Drummond, currently a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers, have been prevalent for several weeks now. As the trade deadline approaches, subsequently opening the buyout market, the possibility of Drummond joining L.A. seems to be heating up.
Drummond, who was traded to the Cavaliers last February, is currently in the final year of a five-year contract that sees him making just north of $28 million this season. After this season, he’s scheduled to hit free agency as an unrestricted free agent.
However, Cleveland has made it evident they have no plans for Drummond to remain with the team and have actively explored trade avenues to depart with the center. In fact, Drummond hasn’t featured for the Cavaliers since mid-February, as he and the team agreed for him to be on the bench and not play.
But a potential trade for Drummond hasn’t born any fruit, leading him to be a possible buyout candidate, to which the Lakers have been viewed as a top suitor along with the Brooklyn Nets. Now, it seems that the Lakers are in the lead for Drummond, according to Marc Stein of The New York Times:
There is a growing belief around the league that the Los Angeles Lakers have an edge over the Nets to sign Drummond if he makes it to free agency, and the Heat are widely regarded as the leaders to sign Aldridge.
The Lakers can only afford to offer Drummond a minimum deal, but they have a bigger role to offer him than the Nets. After he and the Cavaliers mutually agreed a month ago that he would not play while the team sought deals, Drummond needs playing time to enhance his marketability entering free agency. That has given the Lakers confidence they can trump the offers of the Nets, who can use a $5.7 million disabled player exception from Spencer Dinwiddie’s season-ending knee injury or a $5.6 million midlevel exception left over from last off-season.
The Lakers are in an incredibly bumpy situation with their frontcourt, as Anthony Davis is still nursing a lower-leg injury and Marc Gasol hasn’t played in multiple weeks because of health and safety protocols, and even when available, he looked like a shell of his previous self. Damian Jones, who played through two 10-day contracts, wasn’t signed for the rest of the season.
While Drummond has established himself as a household name at his position, a position the Lakers need assistance in, it’s unclear how effective he’d be in a role with L.A. He averaged 17.5 points per game with Cleveland but attempted 15.2 shots and converted on 47.4% of them. For a big man that doesn’t have range beyond the paint, that’s suboptimal.
However, the Lakers may feel more confident in Drummond’s abilities alongside a healthy team where there’s plenty of opportunities to go around. Drummond could also serve as the clean-up big, as he averages four offensive rebounds a game this season.
Nonetheless, Drummond needs a shot somewhere to show his worth, and with Blake Griffin signing with the Nets, along with the emergence of Nicolas Claxton, Drummond could be headed to the Lakers soon.
Lakers not closing door to re-sign Jones for remainder of season
After the Lakers opted to let Jones walk back into free agency following two 10-day stints, head coach Frank Vogel remained adamant that the door isn’t shut for Jones to possibly return.
“With D.J, the door is not closed, but we’re going to use this window of time approaching the trade deadline and the buyout market and we’re going to maintain our flexibility during this stretch to see what’s ahead of us,” Vogel said. “He did a good job for us and the door is not closed.”
It’ll be interesting to see how a potential move for Drummond would change that, but Jones did show the entire league he’s capable of filling a hole at center; he boasted a field goal percentage of 94.1 in eight games.
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