Andre Drummond’s buyout was just announced but the Los Angeles Lakers’ free-agent target appears to be close to making a decision. After weeks of being the favorite to land Drummond, there had been a growing buzz that the Celtics had a chance to snag the center away from L.A.
Despite the Celtics being in contention, Wojnarowski later reported the Lakers are still the “strong front-runners” to sign Drummond. The former Cavs center will clear waivers at 5 p.m. Eastern but that does not prevent an unofficial announcement from leaking prior to this deadline.
“The Los Angeles Lakers have emerged as strong front-runners to sign center Andre Drummond, sources told ESPN on Saturday night,” Wojnarowski detailed. “Drummond clears waivers on Sunday at 5 p.m. ET but could finalize a commitment to join the Lakers earlier this weekend, sources said. The Lakers’ star players and front office have been recruiting Drummond hard, selling him on the opportunity to step into the defending champion’s starting lineup, sources said.”
The two storied franchises’ rivalry now extends into the buyout market with the Lakers and Celtics competing to add the center to their roster. Wojnarowski previously reported the Celtics met with Drummond on March 26, the day his buyout was announced and the team has a “real shot” at signing the center.
“Per Woj on ESPN: ‘The Celtics met with Andre Drummond today. Boston would like to add him to fill their hole in the middle. Boston has a real shot at him,'” Yahoo Sports’ Keith Smith tweeted prior to the most recent news.
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Drummond Is Reportedly Considering the Lakers, Celtics & Knicks
According to The Los Angeles Times’ Brad Turner, Drummond is considering the Lakers, Celtics and Knicks with a decision potentially coming as soon as this weekend. New York has the advantage of being able to offer Drummond the most money since they are under the salary cap.
“Lakers and Celtics in running to land center Andre Drummond, but Knicks also have a shot,” Turner noted on Twitter. “Drummond might make a decision today.”
The Lakers have two key advantages in the Drummond sweepstakes. Los Angeles arguably gives Drummond the best chance to compete for an NBA championship and visibility to rebuild his value when he hits free agency again this offseason. Drummond would potentially start for the Lakers given Marc Gasol’s inconsistent play so far this season.
Lakers Players Are Recruiting Drummond as He Works Out in L.A.
Leading up to the trade deadline, the Lakers were widely viewed as the favorites to sign Drummond. There are some positive signs that the Lakers still stand a good chance to add the center. Wojnarowski reported Lakers players have been recruiting Drummond to sign with the Lakers.
“They’re really focused on Andre Drummond right now,” Wojnarowski detailed. “I know the Lakers players have been trying to recruit him to LA. Certainly, there’s an opportunity for him to step right in and become the starting center there.”
Cleveland.com’s Terry Pluto reported Drummond had been working out in Los Angeles as he awaited a buyout from the Cavs. Cleveland hoped to find a trade partner for Drummond but his $28.7 million salary made it problematic to make a deal.
“But he knew his playing time (and stats) would be diminished with [Jarrett] Allen now the center of attention,” Pluto explained. “I heard Drummond has been working out in Los Angeles, wanting to go to the Lakers.”
The Lakers Were Also Expected to Meet with LaMarcus Aldridge
The Lakers missed out on another potential target as LaMarcus Aldridge is signing with the Nets, per Wojnarowski. Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes previously reported that Aldridge would meet with the Lakers among other teams. According to The New York Times’ Marc Stein, the Celtics and Lakers now appear to be the top contenders for Drummond with the Knicks likely out of the mix.
“The Knicks are not at the forefront of the chase for Andre Drummond, league sources say, with three defensive-minded centers on the roster and with no clear starting spot to pitch,” Stein explained on Twitter. “The Lakers and the Celtics are believed to be the strongest contenders for Drummond.”