Andre Drummond hasn't played a game in over month for the Cleveland Cavaliers, who took the big man out of action in mid-February as they seek to deal him before the March 25 trade deadline. So far they haven't found any takers, at least none that are willing to offer Cleveland an acceptable return. As a result, Drummond is now inching closer and closer to being bought out by the Cavs. If that happens, the Los Angeles Lakers and Brooklyn Nets are expected to be top suitors, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic. Marc Stein of the New York Times recently reported mutual interest between Drummond and the Lakers.
A buyout for Drummond is far from a certainty, however. The Cavs reportedly want to get something in return for Drummond, and are still determined to find a trade partner for the veteran big man before the March 25 deadline. The New York Knicks have also explored the idea of adding Drummond, and potentially inking him to a long-term deal over the offseason.
The Lakers and Nets are believed to be Drummond's top suitors should he receive a contract buyout after the trade deadline, but the Cavaliers are steadfast about finding a trade for the center. The Knicks have also explored the possibility of adding Drummond, and potentially offering him a multiyear deal as a free agent via buyout, sources said. The Cavaliers have so far sought an asset back in any Drummond deal -- such as a second-round pick, sources said -- but rival teams are skeptical about Cleveland's ability to find one in a trade. Drummond is on an expiring contract worth $28.7 million.
The Cavaliers, who are in the midst of a rebuild, acquired center Jarrett Allen earlier this season in a mega three-team deal that sent James Harden in Brooklyn, and the Cavs plan to make Allen its starting center moving forward. Thus, Drummond's presence on the roster became superfluous. However, Drummond is still capable of producing at a high level. On the season, he's averaging 17.5 points and 13.5 rebounds per game, and that production could be very valuable to a contender. "Whichever direction this goes, Andre is 27, in his prime, and I believe strongly that he has a great deal to add to a team building toward a postseason run," Drummond's agent, Jeff Schwartz of Excel Sports, said in a statement last month.
After losing Allen earlier in the season, the Nets still need frontcourt fortification, and Drummond could provide that. Outside of DeAndre Jordan, Brooklyn doesn't have a true center on the roster, so Drummond could slide right into that role. While they did add Blake Griffin, he won't fill the same role Drummond could for the Nets. At this point in time, he might be the best available option for Brooklyn when it comes to improving at the center spot.
For the Lakers, seeking front-court depth is a case of doubling down on the sheer size and physicality they hope can overwhelm more potent offensive teams like the Utah Jazz and Los Angeles Clippers in the West, and the Brooklyn Nets, Milwaukee Bucks or Philadelphia 76ers in a potential Finals matchup. Last season, the Lakers saw the benefit of being able to overwhelm an increasingly small league with old-fashioned size. Dwight Howard was a big part of their championship, and Drummond offers the same kind of size with a more advanced skill set. It's also a wise insurance move in case Anthony Davis has any more injury setbacks.
Drummond is a good passer and can put the ball on the floor. He can own the boards, and when engaged he can function as a decent defender. The Lakers will go small with Davis at the five when it matters most. But games are won and lost on the margins in the playoffs, and a few stretches of dominance from Drummond could be an additional advantage for the Lakers in a tight-knit championship chase.