Rumors linking the Los Angeles Lakers to Cleveland Cavaliers center Andre Drummond are gaining steam. ESPN’s Brian Windhorst noted on The Hoop Collective podcast that there is a growing belief around the NBA that Drummond will sign with the Lakers if he receives a buyout from the Cavs.
“The league believes, and I know that’s a vague statement, but I’m saying it that way to avoid trapping myself,” Windhorst explained, per Real GM. “The league believes, numerous teams I’ve talked to believe that Andre Drummond is heading for the Lakers if slash when he gets bought out.”
It is important to remember that Drummond’s $28.7 salary makes a trade to the Lakers improbable. Los Angeles needs Cleveland to avoid dealing the center by the March 25th trade deadline in order to have a real chance at landing Drummond.
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There Is a ‘Growing Expectation’ That Drummond Will Receive a Buyout
The good news for the Lakers is things appear to be trending towards Drummond not being traded. Unlike the Lakers, the Cavs’ preference is clearly to get something in return for Drummond, but his salary is making it difficult to find a trade partner. According to Cleveland.com’s Chris Fedor, there is a “growing expectation” that Drummond will ultimately receive a buyout.
“It’s why others around the league remain skeptical of a trade,” Fedor detailed. “There’s a growing expectation he will be bought out — even though the Cavs aren’t asking for much. Given what they gave up for him last year — two expiring contracts and a future second-round pick — Cleveland’s front office recognizes the return will be low. There are no delusions of a strong offer before March 25.”
The one thing that would prevent Drummond from landing in Hollywood is a team swooping at the deadline to acquire the center. Fedor added that teams like the Knicks or Heat could play spoiler to Drummond receiving a buyout.
“One thing in Cleveland’s favor, according to a rival executive, is the belief that only a few teams will have a realistic shot in the buyout market,” Fedor added. “If the New York Knicks, Toronto Raptors, Chicago Bulls, Heat or Celtics — all teams linked to Drummond — truly have interest, how many would beat out Brooklyn or the Los Angeles Lakers in free agency? Any of those five teams could be incentivized to acquire him in a trade as the clock ticks, the one path to guaranteeing his services for the stretch run.”
Woj Predicts the Lakers Have an Edge Over the Nets for Drummond
Windhorst is not the only insider who believes the Lakers have the inside track for Drummond. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski noted that the Lakers are likely to have an edge on the Nets for Drummond as he would have a chance to start in Los Angeles.
“I think Drummond has more value to the Lakers right now,” Wojnarowski said on The Woj Pod. “He goes to the Lakers, he’s starting at center for them. Not sure about that in Brooklyn, maybe, but you still have DeAndre Jordan there and Blake Griffin once he gets healthy playing some small-ball center. But certainly, there will be great interest with him there and also, of course, the Lakers.”
Drummond is averaging 17.5 points, 13.5 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.2 blocks in 25 starts for the Cavs this season. The Cavs are holding out Drummond in hopes they can reach a deal before the upcoming trade deadline.