The Los Angeles Lakers are not viewing Andre Drummond in the same way as many are describing the newest L.A. center. Drummond is being discussed as a short-term rental by some analysts given his upcoming free-agent status. Lakers head coach Frank Vogel shot down this notion adding that the team’s goal is to keep the center for the foreseeable future.
“Well, that’s certainly what we’re hopeful for [to keep Drummond],” Vogel noted during a recent press conference. “This summer will play out and we’ll let that happen when it happens. We want him to help us during this championship run this season, but we’re hopeful that he’s a Laker for a long time to come. That’s what we’re envisioning. We think he’s going to be a key piece for us both in the short-term and the long-term.”
Drummond signed a one-year deal with the Lakers for the veteran minimum after receiving a buyout from the Cavaliers. The center will be a free agent this offseason, but the Lakers do not have his Bird Rights making it especially difficult to keep Drummond long-term. The most the Lakers are expected to be able to offer is the mid-level exception, and Drummond could command a more lucrative deal once he hits the open market.
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Drummond on Upcoming Free Agency: ‘I’m Just Focused on Wearing This Lakers Jersey Right Now’
Vogel’s comments are still interesting as it indicates the Lakers will try to retain Drummond, even while knowing the unlikely cap gymnastics required. Drummond was much vaguer when asked about his future in his introductory Lakers press conference.
“I’m just focused on wearing this Lakers jersey right now,” Drummond said, via Silver Screen and Roll. “When the time comes for the next decision, we’ll cross that bridge, but right now my main focus is on helping this team win as many games as possible.”
Drummond is clearly hoping his time with the Lakers will increase his value heading into free agency. For the Lakers to have any chance at retaining Drummond, the big man would likely need to be willing to take a discount.
Drummond Is Day-to-Day With a Toe Injury
Drummond’s Lakers debut did not go as planned as the center revealed after the game that his toenail came off. This cut short his first game with the Lakers as Drummond notched four points, two assists, one rebound and one block in 14 minutes. It remains to be seen if Drummond will be the latest Laker to be sidelined as the center is listed as day-to-day.
“I didn’t really think anything of it,” Drummond explained, per ESPN. “I came back in the second quarter and it was hurting a little bit more. And then after halftime, I finally took my sock off to look and my whole toenail was gone. So, it was just all bad from there. I couldn’t walk or run. So I just told Coach [Frank Vogel] to take me out.”
Drummond appears to be the Lakers’ new starting center, but we are likely at least a month away from seeing the revamped lineup at full strength with LeBron James and Anthony Davis still recovering from injuries. The Lakers have yet to reveal if Drummond will also be forced to miss games with his new toe injury.