On Sunday, Andre Drummond signed a contract with the Los Angeles Lakers for the remainder of the 2020-21 season. Once the season is over, Drummond will be an unrestricted free agent, but Frank Vogel is hopeful that the team will be able to re-sign him.
“This summer will play out and we’ll let that happen when that happens,” Vogel said after practice on Tuesday. “But we want him to help us during this championship run this season, We’re hopeful that he’s a Laker for a long time to come. That’s what we’re envisioning: that he’s a key piece for us in the short term and the long-term.”
Unfortunately, due the financial constraints that the Lakers will be operating under in the offseason, a reunion with Drummond this summer is highly unlikely, as Bobby Marks of ESPN explained in his super helpful video detailing the team’s complex salary cap situation.
The Lakers will go into the summer with $110 million in guaranteed salary on their books, which is $2 million below the projected salary cap for the 2021-22 season. However, that’s before you factor in the cap holds of Alex Caruso, Dennis Schröder and Talen Horton-Tucker — three players the team has expressed interesting in re-signing. With all of their cap holds, that number jumps to $141 million.
So, unless the Lakers renounce their rights to Schröder or trade Kentavious Caldwell-Pope or Kyle Kuzma in the offseason, they can’t offer Drummond more than the veteran’s minimum exception. Even if they cleared the room the necessary to sign Drummond to the full, $10.1 million non-taxpayer mid-level exception, they’d create a different problem for themselves because they’d trigger the hard cap, which is projected to be $143 million. With just James, Davis, Kuzma and Drummond under contract, the Lakers would be at $104 million.
And this is all under the assumption that Drummond would re-sig for the non-taxpayer midlevel exception, which is bold in and of itself. Teams may not see Drummond as a max contract player anymore, but it would be a surprise to see him sign a contract for less than $15 million.
Stranger things have happened — like Montrezl Harrell signing a two-year, $18.9 million with the Lakers in free agency last year — but the safe bet is this being Drummond’s one and only season in Los Angeles.