Over the last month, the Brooklyn Nets and Los Angeles Lakers have been widely regarded as the favorites to land Andre Drummond in the event that he’s bought out by the Cleveland Cavaliers. However, as the trade deadline has drawn closer, the Lakers have seemingly emerged as the frontrunners to land the two-time All-Star.
On Tuesday, Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report reported that most executives around the NBA think that Drummond will sign with the Lakers if he’s not traded before Thursday’s deadline (emphasis mine):
Along with the Celtics, the New York Knicks, Dallas Mavericks and Chicago Bulls are known to have kicked the tires on Drummond, according to league sources, and the possibility always remains that some team will emerge at the eleventh hour with the draft asset for which the Cavs have been holding out.
But contenders such as the Los Angeles Lakers and Brooklyn Nets (though Brooklyn’s interest seems to have waned since it signed Blake Griffin) have been bullish that Cleveland will fall short of finding a trade, leading to Drummond’s agreeing to a buyout and becoming an unrestricted free agent just like Griffin before him. At this juncture, you’d be hard-pressed to find an executive who doesn’t believe Drummond would join the Lakers in that scenario, as a starting role would likely be waiting for him.
Brian Windhorst of ESPN confirmed that report on the latest episode of his podcast, “Brian Windhorst and The Hoop Collective,” and added that the Lakers have also expressed a level of interest in LaMarcus Aldridge, who they tried to recruit as a free agent in 2015:
“One note on the buyout guys ... The league believes, and I know that that’s a vague statement, but I’m saying it that way to avoid trapping myself, but the league believes, numerous teams that I’ve talked to believe that Andre Drummond is heading for the Lakers if/when he gets bought out. And there is a growing belief that the leader for LaMarcus Aldridge is the Heat... I know that the L.A. teams have interest in LaMarcus too, and depending on the way things go, that could end up being the case, but multiple people I talk to in the league with multiple teams seem to think that’s a possibility.”
Drummond acknowledged the noise around him on Twitter on Tuesday, but it wasn’t to confirm or deny any of it:
These rumors are exactly why the Lakers are expected to wait until after the trade deadline to make their big moves. That’s not to say that they won’t be aggressive at the trade deadline — in fact, we know that they’ve been active — but they’re more likely to sign a difference-maker on the buyout market than they are as a hard-capped team in the trade market, whether it’s Drummond or Aldridge.
Suffice to say, this next week could be big for Rob Pelinka. The trade deadline is on Thursday. Clock’s ticking.