Andre Drummond hasn't played a game in almost a month for the Cleveland Cavaliers, who took the big man out of action in mid-February while they scoured the trade market. So far they haven't found any takers, at least none that are willing to offer Cleveland an acceptable return. As a result, Drummond is now inching closer and closer to being bought out by the Cavs.
If that happens, Kevin O'Connor of The Ringer is reporting that the Los Angeles Lakers would prefer to sign Drummond over DeMarcus Cousins, whom they've also been linked to in rumors, in an effort to pad their front-court depth. From O'Connor:
With Anthony Davis sidelined and Dennis Schröder missing a stretch due to COVID-19 protocols, the Lakers have slipped in the West standings. There's no reason to panic, but the front office is looking for frontcourt depth.
League sources say they have interest in free agent DeMarcus Cousins, but Drummond is their preference if he gets bought out. Drummond has been benched while the Cavaliers seek a trade, but there's doubt around the league that they'll be able to find one due to his massive $28.8 million salary.
If Drummond does end up hitting the buyout market, consider the Lakers and Nets as the two favorites to add him.
Marc Stein of the New York Times also reported mutual interest between Drummond and the Lakers:
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.
Last season, the Lakers saw the benefit of being able to overwhelm an increasingly small league with old-fashioned size. Dwight Howard was a big part of their championship, and Drummond offers the same kind of size with a more advanced skillset. Drummond is a good passer and can put the ball on the floor. He can own the boards, and when engaged he can function as a decent defender.
In the playoffs, particularly down the stretch of games, the Lakers are sure to lean on Anthony Davis at the five, but there are a lot of minutes between now and then. Depending on the matchup, Marc Gasol and/or Montrezl Harrell might become a bit less effective in the playoffs.
The Lakers don't shoot the 3-ball well and don't have a lot of versatility beyond LeBron James and Davis on the offensive end -- although those two don't really need much more than themselves, with some playmaking help from Dennis Schroder, as long as they're both healthy come playoff time.
Seeking front-court depth is a case of the Lakers doubling down on the sheer size and physicality they hope can overwhelm more potent offensive teams like the Utah Jazz and Los Angeles Clippers in the West, and the Brooklyn Nets and/or Milwaukee Bucks in a potential Finals matchup. Again, the Lakers will go small with Davis at the five when it matters most. But games are won and lost on the margins in the playoffs, and a few stretches of dominance from Drummond can be one more advantage in a tight-knit championship chase.
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