Lakers Rumors: Latest on Andre Drummond Rumblings and Upcoming Roster Decisions
The Los Angeles Lakers have only six players under contract for the 2021-22 season, which means the franchise will have some important decisions to make as it constructs its roster during the upcoming offseason.
After a disappointing 2020-21 campaign in which they went 42-30 during the regular season and lost in six games to the Phoenix Suns in the opening round of the playoffs, the Lakers could look for a better supporting cast for LeBron James and Anthony Davis. But their financial situation may make it difficult.
Can the Lakers quickly get back to a championship level after winning the NBA title in 2020? We'll find out soon enough.
Here's some of the latest buzz surrounding Los Angeles' roster decisions as it prepares for the offseason.
Drummond Had Been Promised a Starting Role
When the Lakers signed Andre Drummond on March 28, it appeared they had brought in a center who could start alongside Anthony Davis in the frontcourt and be a dominant force down low. And that was the intention the team had, according to Marc Stein of the New York Times.
"The Lakers promised Drummond a starting role to secure his commitment in free agency, according to two people familiar with the situation who were not authorized to discuss it publicly," he wrote.
The 27-year-old averaged 11.9 points and 10.2 rebounds while starting 21 regular-season games for L.A. However, he played only 21 minutes per contest in the Lakers' first five playoff games, then didn't play at all in Game 6 against the Suns.
Did that mark the end of his time in Los Angeles? Potentially not.
"With such limited salary-cap flexibility to make changes, the Lakers likely have to try to retain players already on their payroll like Drummond," Stein wrote.
Perhaps things could go better if Drummond returns to the Lakers and is with them for a full season.
Caruso Could Draw Plenty of Interest in Offseason
Over his first four NBA seasons, Alex Caruso has become a valuable role player off the bench. And as The Athletic's Jovan Buha recently pointed out, the Lakers aren't the only team in the NBA to notice that.
"Caruso is the Lakers free agent that has the most league-wide appeal," he wrote. "... He's likely going to receive a contract at the non-taxpayer mid-level ($10.1 million) annually at a minimum. He could easily get something in the $12-13 million range."
Because of that, Buha noted that re-signing the Texas A&M product will be a "top priority" for Los Angeles this offseason. He's only 27 and would likely continue to be a solid player for the team, should he decide to return.
Caruso averaged 6.4 points, 2.9 rebounds and 2.8 assists in 58 games for the Lakers this season. He shot 43.6 percent from the field and 40.1 percent from three-point range.
Lakers Looking to Bring Back Horton-Tucker?
Talen Horton-Tucker is only 20 years old, and he impressed during the 2020-21 season while getting substantial playing time in the NBA for the first time.
With the guard being a restricted free agent, the Lakers will be able to match any offers he receives from other teams. And why wouldn't they?
"The Lakers have made it clear they view [Horton-Tucker] as a long-term piece, and they'll likely match any reasonable offer sheet he receives in free agency," Buha wrote.
Entering his second season with only six games of NBA experience, Horton-Tucker played 65 games, averaging 9.0 points per contest and shooting 45.8 percent from the field. He proved to be a valuable player off the bench, and he may only get better as he gets more time on the court.
It's hard to imagine the Iowa State alum won't be back in Los Angeles next season unless a team is willing to spend big and go out of Los Angeles' range.
However, it wouldn't be surprising to see Horton-Tucker back in the purple and gold in 2021-22.