The Andre Drummond experience hasn’t gotten off to the exciting start many were hoping it would. The new Los Angeles Lakers center only notched four points in his debut and had to leave early after losing a toenail. He’s already missed one game and could miss a couple more while he heals.
Even though he’s only played one game with the team, many have wondered if there’s any way the Lakers can keep him past this season. Just this past year, the team signed LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Kyle Kuzma and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope to sizable multi-year contracts. They also have Dennis Schroder on an expiring deal. If they hope to keep Drummond long-term, it’ll be a little tricky.
While it won’t be easy to keep him, it’s certainly possible. Bleacher Report’s Eric Pincus broke down what the Lakers would need to do to make it happen:
Drummond can only earn up to $2.9 million with his non-Bird rights. To get to the cap space needed to pay out even $16 million in starting salary, the Lakers would need to dramatically pare down their roster (by letting free agents walk and trading several players under contract).
The best case for Drummond would be a willingness to stay on at the $5.9 million TMLE, but that’s well below market value. The Lakers could try to get to the $9.5 million NTMLE, but then they would be hard-capped at $143 million, necessitating similar cuts/trades (letting Schroder walk, perhaps sending Kentavious Caldwell-Pope or Kyle Kuzma out in a trade).
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Too Early to Talk Drummond Lakers Future?
It does seem a bit premature to even start talking about Drummond’s future as a Laker. He’s only played one game and it wasn’t exactly the best showcase for his abilities. It’s not a given that he’ll even be a great fit with the team.
There’s a reason he was on the buyout market despite being a two-time All-Star. That’s not to say that Drummond won’t be awesome for the Lakers. It’s entirely possible that he becomes a major difference maker. It’s just hard to know right now if that will be the case. The Lakers should at least give him a few games in purple and gold before they start worrying about his future status with the team.
Would It Be Worth It to Keep Drummond?
As Pincus pointed out, the Lakers might have to move on from quite a bit to keep Drummond. Letting Dennis Schroder walk in free agency would be tough. He’s the team’s starting point guard and has been their third-best player this season. Once Anthony Davis comes back, Drummond won’t be more valuable to the team than Schroder.
Also, who knows how much money he’s going to demand in free agency? Drummond was almost getting paid $28 million a year by the Cleveland Cavaliers before getting bought out. He might be worth that much to another team but the Lakers can’t pay him that much unless he’s the second coming of Shaquille O’Neal. At this point, Los Angeles needs to take a wait-and-see approach. Drummond could blow them away and demand big money in free agency. He could also just end up being a decent rental similar to what Dwight Howard was last year.