As was widely expected, the NBA trade deadline passed without the Cleveland Cavaliers finding a trade for Andre Drummond. As a result, the player most widely expected to join the Lakers as a midseason free agency addition will soon be getting the buyout he was seeking.
Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports broke the news:
The Cleveland Cavaliers and Andre Drummond will work out a buyout, league sources tell @YahooSports.— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) March 25, 2021
Drummond has been away from the Cavaliers since February, when the team decided to park him as they looked for a trade or considered buying out the final one year and $29 million left on his contract that he opted into last summer. The Cavaliers acquired Jarrett Allen in a trade and wanted to play and develop him, and it wasn’t long before Drummond was away from the team.
Drummond was averaging 17.5 points and 13.5 rebounds, 1.6 steals and 1.2 blocks in 28.9 minutes per game during the 25 games he played for the Cavs this season, all starts.
As the most online among us know, Drummond has been frequently linked to the Lakers. Rival executives talked about him as a buyout target for the team, and Marc Stein of The New York Times reported that the Lakers felt “optimism” he’d consider them if the Cavs opted to buy him out instead of trading him. Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer added that the Lakers prefer Drummond to their former center DeMarcus Cousins, while Shams Charania of The Athletic added that the Nets and Lakers have long been expected to be Drummond’s top suitors if he was eventually bought out.
Over the week leading up to the trade deadline, there was even more noise:
If he makes his way to the Lakers, Drummond would provide a center of a type more similar to what Dwight Howard and JaVale McGee brought last season than the options the Lakers have used this year. He is more mobile and athletic than Marc Gasol — low bar, I know — and is arguably the greatest rebounder in the history of basketball.
Does that sound like hyperbole or an overdose of purple and gold Kool Aid? Well, he’s averaging 13.8 boards per game for his career, which ranks eighth all time in NBA/ABA history and first among active players, per Basketball-Reference. He also has the best rebound percentage in the history of the NBA, grabbing 24.59% of all misses while he’s on the floor.
In short, he’s really, really good on the glass.
The downside to his game? Well, he’s a horrible free-throw shooter, making less than 50% for his career and less than 60% this season, which is nearly a career-best. He’s also never been an especially efficient scorer, despite taking most of his looks near the rim. This year he’s only shooting 47.4% from the floor, and, 48.4% on twos overall and 39.4% from 3-10 feet.
Drummond is also not a playmaker, averaging more turnovers than assists in every season of his career but one, and his other offensive playtypes, per Synergy, are mostly below-average in efficiency:
Drummond is additionally not as good defensively as his reputation would suggest, although the Lakers under Frank Vogel have a history of putting guys in position to succeed there, so maybe they can get the most out of Drummond’s solid natural tools on that end.
All that noted, he’s still not a guarantee to join the Lakers.
Sources: The New York Knicks have emerged as a serious potential destination for Cavaliers big man Andre Drummond.— Kevin O'Connor (@KevinOConnorNBA) March 24, 2021
But all in all, Drummond would be a solid get for the Lakers, especially for the veteran’s minimum. It remains unclear exactly what his role on this team would be, but with an open roster spot for cheap, this would be a really good flyer on a player who can at the very least help them end possessions and get out on the break to avoid trying to score in the halfcourt more than they have to.