The first big domino in the buyout market fell on Monday, when the Brooklyn Nets officially signed five-time All-Star Blake Griffin to a veteran’s minimum contract. The Los Angeles Lakers expressed interest in Griffin, according to a report from Marc Stein of the New York Times, however, the Nets were the favorites from the very start.
The same is expected to be true if two-time All-Star Andre Drummond is bought out before the trade deadline, but the Lakers think they’ll be players too, according to a report from Stein on Monday.
There is optimism within the Lakers that they will get strong consideration from Andre Drummond if Drummond ultimately leaves the Cavaliers via buyout, league sources say.— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) March 8, 2021
Cleveland’s preference, of course, remains trading Drummond elsewhere before the March 25 trade deadline.
Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer gave the Lakers even more reason to be optimistic earlier in the day, when he reported that they are one of the “two favorites” to land Drummond as a free agent alongside the Nets. That’s good news for the Lakers, but it could be better.
You see: as long as the Nets — the team with the second-best record in the Eastern Conference — have a glaring hole at the center position, they’ll be viewed as the favorites because the Lakers already have two viable options at center in Marc Gasol and Montrezl Harrell. That’s not to mention Anthony Davis, who played 60% of his minutes at center during the Lakers’ championship run last season.
The Nets also have more money to offer Drummond than the Lakers do, and not by a little. With no exceptions left to give, the Lakers can only sign Drummond to a contract with the prorated veteran’s minimum exception. Meanwhile, the Nets can offer Drummond their mid-level exception or their disabled player exception, both of which are worth approximately $5 million.
Call me a pessimist, but there’s a reason there’s been so much noise around Drummond and the Nets over the last month. We’ll see what actually happens before or after the trade deadline on March 25.