Popular thought after the Los Angeles Lakers signed Andre Drummond was the big man would be a half-season rental for L.A. heading into the postseason. Drummond will hit free agency this offseason, and the Lakers could find it challenging to retain the center given the team does not have his Bird Rights which would allow Los Angeles to exceed the cap on a new deal.
Despite the barriers, the Lakers appear committed to making a strong push to re-sign Drummond. ESPN’s Dave McMenamin noted on The Lowe Post podcast that he believes the Lakers see Drummond as part of their future.
“They’ve been so committed to him [Drummond] being the ceremonial starter, and obviously he gets more than just ceremonial minutes,” McMenamin explained. “But 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 that this isn’t just a half a season buyout market rental. Andre Drummond’s part of the future moving forward with this franchise.”
The Lakers May Be Keeping Drummond in the Starting Lineup as Part of Their Free-Agent Pitch
McMenamin indicated that Drummond being the “ceremonial starter” has more to do with the big man’s future than it does this series. The Lakers insider noted that the team is using Drummond’s current role as part of the team’s pitch to keep the center in free agency. Heading into Game 5, Drummond is averaging 9.5 points and 10.5 rebounds while playing 20.7 minutes per game in the first-round series against the Suns.
“That’s always a tough one though because 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,” McMenamin continued. “Drummond’s been okay this series, Game 2 he was actually very good and the rest of the series he’s been okay. Usually, [teams are] pretty much never, unless someone gets injured, going to win or lose a game in the first six minutes anyway. So, you can keep him as the starter.”
Vogel on Drummond: ‘We Think He’s Going to Be a Key Piece for Us Both in the Short-Term & the Long-Term’
All this coincides with what Lakers head coach Frank Vogel said after the team signed Drummond. The Lakers have been consistent about their intent to retain Drummond, but the team is heading into a critical offseason with several key players set to hit free agency.
“Well, that’s certainly what we’re hopeful for [to keep Drummond],” Vogel said in a March 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.”
While the Lakers may have this desire, the team will not have cap space to sign Drummond to a lucrative deal. Unless the Lakers pull off a cap miracle, the most the team will be able to offer Drummond is their mid-level exception.
Los Angeles is expected to face competition for Drummond and the big man has a chance to land a bigger deal elsewhere. Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer reported the Hornets and Knicks are two teams the Lakers will need to watch this summer in the Drummond sweepstakes.