Andre Drummond has signed with the Los Angeles Lakers after securing a buyout from the Cleveland Cavaliers and clearing waivers, the Lakers announced on Sunday. The two-time All-Star center has not played since Feb. 12, when the Cavaliers, fresh off acquiring Jarrett Allen to be their center of the future, benched him in an effort to preserve his trade value. His $28.7 million salary prevented Cleveland from finding a trade partner, though, which led to the buyout.
"Andre Drummond gives us powerful, anchor-point skills on both ends of the court," Lakers vice president of basketball operations Rob Pelinka said. "We feel extremely fortunate to add a player of his caliber and magnitude to our core group at this stage of our journey to defend the NBA title."
Here's a first look Drummond in purple and gold, via his Instagram account.
This doesn't come as a surprise as the Lakers have been linked to the big man for some time now after Cleveland decided to shut him down until they either traded him or bought him out of his contract. Several of the Lakers players have been trying to recruit Drummond to sign with Los Angeles, selling him on playing for a defending championship team that is capable of getting there again this season.
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Drummond going to the Lakers has been rumored for quite some time, but it's a bit strange when you really break down his place on the roster. Anthony Davis is going to play quite a few center minutes in the postseason. Marc Gasol has limitations, but it's worth noting that the five-man starting lineup featuring him, Davis, LeBron James, Dennis Schroder and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope was outscoring opponents by 13.9 points per 100 possessions before injuries broke it apart. When healthy, that success shouldn't be taken for granted. And then there's Montrezl Harrell, who is averaging a hyper-efficient 14.9 points per game off of the bench. He, like so many other Lakers, is represented by Klutch Sports, and with a player option this offseason, likely isn't thrilled with the idea of a reduced role in the playoffs. It isn't yet clear how Frank Vogel plans to balance all of those big men, but it will be one of the most important stories of the postseason for Los Angeles.
But the Lakers have clearly missed the athleticism JaVale McGee and Dwight Howard brought to the center position last season. Gasol is largely a stretch-five this season, and Harrell, only 6-8, just doesn't have the size to do the things that McGee and Howard did. That has meant fewer lobs in the pick-and-roll and slightly worse rim protection. In theory, Drummond can provide those things if he buys into his role. Howard did last season, and it won him his first championship, but he was 34 and nearly out of the league when the Lakers gave him a lifeline. Drummond is 27 and seeking a new deal this offseason. His mentality will determine how successful he is in Los Angeles.
With Davis and LeBron currently sidelined with injuries, Drummond's impact would be felt immediately in their absence, and when the Lakers are fully healthy his rebounding and rim protection will help a team that hasn't gotten great production in those areas out of its bigs this season.
While Drummond chose the Lakers, he reportedly had contact with several other teams, including the Clippers, Knicks, Celtics and Hornets. Any of those franchises could've made great use of Drummond's services, but the Lakers give him a chance at winning a championship this season and boosting his stock before he enters unrestricted free agency this summer.
Drummond is averaging 17.5 points and 13.5 rebounds this season, which are both near career highs. He hasn't played since Feb. 12, so his conditioning may not be where it needs to be for any team that signs him right now, but it's obvious he can still make an impact on both ends of the floor.