With just two days left before the NBA’s trade deadline, the Andre Drummond situation remains unchanged — the Cavaliers are still holding out hope that they’ll be able to recoup a second-round pick in a trade, while people around the league remain skeptical it will happen. The main roadblock is Drummond’s $28.75MM salary, which will be difficult for teams to match without giving up a rotation player.
“The hard part is he just makes so much money,” one assistant general manager told Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report. “It’s hard to not include a contract you don’t want to trade.”
The Celtics, Knicks, Mavericks, and Bulls are among the teams that have kicked the tires on Drummond, and it’s possible one of those clubs – or a new suitor – will meet Cleveland’s asking price right before Thursday’s deadline. However, according to Fischer, teams like the Lakers and Nets remain confident that the Cavs will be unable to find a deal they like.
The Lakers and Nets have long been identified as the top contenders to sign Drummond if he’s bought out and reaches free agency, though it sounds like Los Angeles is viewed as the leader in that scenario.
Fischer writes that you’d be “hard-pressed” to find an executive around the NBA who doesn’t think Drummond would sign with the Lakers as a free agent. Meanwhile, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst conveyed a similar sentiment on his latest Hoop Collective podcast.
“The league believes, and I know that’s a vague statement, but I’m saying it that way to avoid trapping myself,” Windhorst said, per RealGM. “The league believes, numerous teams I’ve talked to believe that Andre Drummond is heading for the Lakers if – slash when – he gets bought out.”
It’s worth noting that the Lakers would be limited to offering Drummond the veteran’s minimum in free agency, while the Nets and other potential suitors could go significantly higher using various mid-level or disabled player exceptions. Still, unless the 27-year-old gives up a significant chunk of what’s left on his $28.75MM salary this season, I’d expect him to prioritize his potential role and fit with a new team over a little extra money.