As disappointing as the “Andre Drummond Experience” was for the Los Angeles Lakers, no one on the team seems to have any grievances about it: Rob Pelinka said he was happy with what Drummond brought to the team, Frank Vogel said he thought he was a good culture fit and Drummond himself said he was satisfied with the way things went, all things considered.
“I think overall, this year, I had an incredible time in the short stint that I was here,” Drummond said on Friday. “There was a lot put on me when I first got here. There was a lot for me to learn, a lot for me to catch up on, and a lot to make up for. Having two of the best players hurt and just trying to figure out an entire time with little time before a playoff run.
“I think I’ve learned so much just being around the coaching staff, being around my teammates. It’s an incredible group of guys that we have here. I’m looking forward to building more with them.”
The one thing that Drummond didn’t say, though, is that he’s interested in returning for a second stint with the Lakers, something Vogel has advocated for on multiple occasions.
“I didn’t say that,” Drummond said when asked if him “looking forward to building more” meant that he was coming back. “I’m looking forward to that we have a lot of time for that (free agency). August is around the corner, and when the time comes to have those discussions, I’ll have those discussions.”
Drummond will be an unrestricted free agent this summer, and because the Lakers signed him to a one-year deal for the pro-rated veteran’s minimum exception in March, they’ll only have his non-bird rights. That means the most they can offer him without using cap space is the taxpayer’s mid-level exception, worth approximately $6 million, or 120% of the veteran’s minimum exception, which is less.
Drummond may have not played like someone who’s worth more than that, but his reputation for being a walking double-double will likely price him out of the Lakers’ range. That’s not a huge issue for the Lakers because Marc Gasol is still under contract, but it goes against the idea that he’s coming back.
Now, is it a certainty that Drummond isn’t going to re-sign with the Lakers? Of course not. In fact, many of the same arguments that are being made now were the same arguments that were being made when Drummond was first bought out. But it would be more surprising than it was in March, for sure.