We’re officially 10 days away from the NBA trade deadline and the Los Angeles Lakers have reportedly been making calls. However, the general expectation is that most of their roster moves will come in the post-trade deadline buyout market because they have two open roster spots.
In past years, the post-trade deadline buyout market has produced very little game-changers for teams. In fact, Markieff Morris, who the Lakers signed as a free agent in the middle of last season, is one of the few examples of a buyout free agent that went on to make an impact for his team in the postseason.
Things could go back to the status quo this season, but there’s at least one big name player that’s expected to hit the open market: Andre Drummond. The 27-year-old center is three years removed from his last All-Star appearance, but he’s averaged a double-double in each season he’s played since his sophomore season, including this one.
Last week, Marc Stein of the New York Times reported that there is “optimism” within the Lakers organization that Drummond will give them “strong consideration” as a free agent, and according to Shams Charania of The Athletic, they have a reason to believe that:
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.
I explained why I’m less optimistic in my story from last week, and it ultimately boiled down to the money and role that the Brooklyn Nets can offer Drummond. Add in the fact that Drummond was born in New York and raised in Connecticut, and it feels like a near certainty that Drummond will find his way to the Nets.
All that being said, there’s a reason that the Lakers are being linked to Drummond at this stage of the season. Could that reason be leverage? Absolutely. It wouldn’t be the first time a team has used the Lakers as leverage to get their client more money. But it’s also possible that Drummond has expressed a genuine interest in teaming up with LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Here’s hoping it’s the latter.