The Los Angeles Lakers were relatively quiet ahead of the 2021 trade deadline, not making any deals while other teams upgraded in hopes of competing for a championship. The Lakers did make a couple of additions on the buyout market, however, with the main one being Andre Drummond after he was bought out by the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Drummond’s time with the Lakers has been filled with ups and downs and has led to averages of 11.9 points and 10.2 rebounds per game to go along with 53.1% shooting. Drummond is a two-time All-Star averaging 14.5 points, 13.7 rebounds and 53.8% shooting over the totality of his career, so the numbers have slightly decreased, which can be expected playing on a team with as much firepower as the Lakers.
The center has also been attempting 9.1 shots per game with the Lakers compared to 11.4 over the course of his career.
Drummond has shown potential to be an interior force on both the offensive and defensive end of the floor, which could potentially make his stay in L.A. longer than this season. According to ESPN’s Dave McMenamin on Zach Lowe’s podcast “The Lowe Post,” the hope in the organization is that they can re-sign Drummond:
“They have been so committed to him being the ceremonial starter. And obviously he gets more than just ceremonial minutes. That seems to be something that is important to Drummond, which makes it important to the Lakers’ front office because they have signaled to everyone listening, ‘This isn’t just a half a season buyout market rental. Andre Drummond is part of the future moving forward with this franchise.’ That’s always a tough one though. When you are trying to make moves to think about the future rather than win in the moment, it’s hard to do both simultaneously as well as you possibly can.”
This doesn’t come as a huge surprise considering Drummond is close friends with both of the team’s two stars in Anthony Davis and LeBron James.
There are some hurdles in place if the Lakers want to re-sign Drummond though as since they signed him off the buyout market, they can only offer him the mid-level exception in free agency while other teams can offer as much as the max.
Even if Drummond is willing to tax a bit of a discount though, the Lakers will only be able to offer him the MLE if Montrezl Harrell declines his player option and if the team doesn’t re-sign some other key free agents. So in addition to Drummond deciding if he wants to take a discount, the Lakers will also have a decision to make in terms of priotizing Drummond or other free agents.
Drummond has opporunity to prove worth in Game 5
With Davis expected to be out from the Lakers’ Game 5 against the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday night with a strained left groin, Drummond will have a chance to step up and be the true Lakers big man they rely on.
Marc Gasol may be one of the greatest passing big men of all time, but with Drummond being in his prime, he has entered the starting lineup and been given a chance to prove he can make an impact.
Game 5 is a big one for any of the players that plan to be part of the Lakers’ long-term future as they will have their opportunity to show what they can do when the cards are stacked against them. Drummond scored five points with 10 rebounds in 19 minutes in the Game 4 loss but if he can have an even bigger performance in such a pivotal game then it will help prove that the Lakers are right in wanting to keep him around for the long haul.
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