The Los Angeles Lakers rumors are heating up thanks to the upcoming trade deadline combined with veterans expected to become free agents after receiving buyouts from their current teams. The Los Angeles Times’ surveyed a group of NBA executives and scouts with three names coming back as consistent potential options for the Lakers: Andre Drummond, Hassan Whiteside and JaVale McGee.
“Rival scouts and executives believe the Lakers are looking for upgrades in their frontcourt,” the Los Angeles Times detailed. “Obviously, Cleveland’s Andre Drummond would be high on their wish list if bought out. Rival executives have wondered if the Lakers could either try to add Sacramento’s Hassan Whiteside or maybe even reunite with JaVale McGee if the former Laker gets bought out and becomes a free agent.”
Before Lakers fans start imagining these players wearing gold and purple, all three centers have their own complications. Unless the Lakers are willing to give up assets, the front office is going to need some help before they can make a move.
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A Lakers Reunion with JaVale McGee Is Unlikely
McGee’s path back to the Lakers is improbable at best as he would have to be traded by the Cavaliers to another team then receive a buyout before potentially signing with Los Angeles. If McGee receives a buyout from the Cavs, he could not re-sign with the Lakers thanks to league rules. Prior to joining the Cavaliers, McGee was the Lakers starting center for the last two seasons.
McGee is averaging 7.4 points, 5.1 rebounds and 1.2 blocks while coming off the bench in Cleveland. The Cavs big man has also been the subject of trade rumors linking him to the Nets.
“I guess they (people who are speculating) take my time in Golden State and just plug me in there also, because they’re like, ‘He thrived when he was in Golden State so he definitely will thrive if he was over there in Brooklyn,’” McGee said on Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes Posted Up podcast. “But hey man, I’m just trying to go day by day and make sure I stay focused and focused on myself. If a team comes and gets me, then it is what it is. But yeah, that’s all I can do, is just stay in shape and stay myself and stay bouncy and stay dunking on people. That’s all I can really do.”
The Lakers Are Reportedly Only Interested in Drummond If He Receives a Buyout
Drummond is the biggest name on the list of potential new Lakers big men. As Heavy detailed earlier, the Lakers are not interested in trading for Drummond but would consider signing the center if he became a free agent thanks to a buyout from Cleveland.
“Along with the Knicks, Drummond continues to be linked to the Brooklyn Nets, Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Clippers,” NBA insider Sam Amico detailed on FortyEightMinutes.com. “The Lakers and Dallas Mavericks are said to only be interested in the event Drummond hits the buyout market.”
Drummond continues to put up major numbers and is on pace to average a double-double for his eighth straight season. The center is posting 17.5 points, 13.5 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game so far this season. It is the kind of production that makes it hard to believe the Cavs will not find a trade patner. Drummond’s $28.7 million salary is likely a major sticking point, but the big man is on an expiring contract which makes it a little more palatable.
Whiteside Is Having the Worst Statistical Season of His Career
Whiteside is on a much more affordable one-year, $2.3 million deal, per Spotrac. The Lakers might be able to get a bit of a discount on Whiteside since he is having a down statistical season. Whiteside is averaging 8.3 points, 5.7 rebounds and 1.3 blocks in just 14.6 minutes per game with the Kings this season. You have to look back to 2012 for worse numbers from Whiteside, well before his breakout season with the Heat in 2014-15.
Whiteside is less than one year removed from averaging 15.5 points, 13.5 rebounds and 2.9 blocks with the Blazers, his sixth straight double-double season. It remains to be seen what the Kings can land in a trade for the big man, but we can expect the Lakers to be involved before the trade deadline.
Keep an Eye on Nemanja Bjelica as a Fit for the Lakers
To keep the Cavaliers and Kings theme going, another name to watch as a fit for the Lakers is Sacramento power forward Nemanja Bjelica. The Lakers have been linked to Bjelica in the past and the big man is coming off the best year of his career averaging 11.5 points and 6.4 rebounds, and 2.8 assists in 2020. This season, Bjelica is putting up 8.4 points, 3.9 rebounds and 2.1 assists in 17 minutes per contest. Unlike a player like Drummond, Bjelica is on a team-friendly deal with a $7.1 million salary as part of an expiring contract.
While it is unclear who the Lakers will add, fans can expect another move in the coming weeks. The Lakers still have one open roster spot and big -man depth along with three-point shooting are two of the most glaring needs the team could look to address.