Lakers Rumors: 'The League Believes' Andre Drummond Headed to LAL After Buyout

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistMarch 23, 2021

Cleveland Cavaliers' Andre Drummond drives the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Milwaukee Bucks, Friday, Feb. 5, 2021, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
Tony Dejak/Associated Press

NBA sources are reportedly confident Cleveland Cavaliers center Andre Drummond will sign with the Los Angeles Lakers if he's not moved before Thursday's 2021 NBA trade deadline and is subsequently bought out by the Cavs.

ESPN's Brian Windhorst reported the update Tuesday on The Hoop Collective podcast.

"The league believes—and I know that that's a vague statement, but I'm saying it that way to avoid trapping myself—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," Windhorst said.

Drummond and the Cavaliers agreed in mid-February he would remain with the team but wouldn't play in games as the front office tried to find a trade partner. Cleveland didn't want to force him to play a minuscule role while shifting to Jarrett Allen as its starting center.

"Sometimes you're forced into difficult positions that's not easy to navigate, but in respect to Dre and all that he's done and accomplished and as much as he's helped us, we thought this was the fairest thing to do for him," head coach J.B. Bickerstaff told reporters.

Drummond was having another strong year before that. He averaged 17.5 points, 13.5 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 1.6 steals and 1.2 blocks while shooting 47.4 percent from the floor in 25 games.

His contract is a major hurdle in trade talks, however, as he carries a $28.8 million cap hit in the final season of his five-year, $127.2 million deal, per Spotrac.

Los Angeles likely doesn't have the financial flexibility to make something happen before the deadline, but ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported Monday the two-time All-Star will be a "real big target" for the Lakers if he does hit free agency.

It creates dilemma for the NBA's other contenders heading into the deadline. Do they try to make a deadline move for Drummond, potentially getting other teams involved to help even out the cap hits, to prevent him from landing in L.A.? Or do they let him become a free agent and let the Lakers be the favorite to sign him?

It's an interesting subplot to follow in the coming days, especially with Los Angeles seeking reinforcements with LeBron James (ankle) and Anthony Davis (calf) sidelined by injuries.

If Drummond does get bought out, the Lakers will likely work quickly to sign him so he can help the team's effort to remain in the upper echelon of the Western Conference standings while L.A. waits for its superstar duo to return.

The Lakers sit third in the West with a 28-15 record as they look to defend their NBA title.