Cleveland Cavaliers center Andre Drummond will reportedly "listen to pitches" from several teams, including the Los Angeles Lakers and New York Knicks, after he finalizes a contract buyout from the Cavs following Thursday's NBA trade deadline.
Drummond hasn't played since Feb. 12 as the Cleveland front office opted to keep him out of the lineup while exploring potential trades. Nothing materialized before the deadline in large part because of the massive $28.8 million cap hit in the final season of his five-year, $127.2 million contract.
"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," Cavs head coach J.B. Bickerstaff told reporters last month.
Now the sides will work toward a buyout that will make the former Detroit Pistons standout an unrestricted free agent.
Drummond averaged 17.5 points, 13.5 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 1.6 steals and 1.2 blocks across 25 appearances before being removed from the Cavaliers' rotation. He shot a career-low 47.4 percent from the field, however, and ranked a modest 39th among centers in ESPN's real plus-minus.
It appeared the Lakers emerged as the clear favorite to sign the 2012 first-round pick, with ESPN's Brian Windhorst reporting Tuesday that "the league believes" he'd end up in L.A., but now it sounds like he's willing to at least consider other teams.
He's still an ideal fit for the Lakers, who could use a rim-protecting center and are currently trying to navigate the injury absences of LeBron James and Anthony Davis without falling outside the top six in the highly competitive Western Conference.
Drummond would likely take on a massive role pretty quickly in Los Angeles, but it would fade a bit once the roster is at full strength, and that's something he may consider as he evaluates offers.
Meanwhile, the Knicks didn't make a major splash at the deadline, and Marc Berman of the New York Post noted they have a "financial edge" over teams like the Lakers, Celtics and Brooklyn Nets if they decide to make a serious push to sign the 27-year-old UConn product.
Drummond will probably act pretty swiftly to select a new team once the buyout is complete so he can clear COVID-19 protocols and get back on the floor after six weeks on the sideline waiting for a resolution.