Why Andre Drummond to the Lakers could be a problem for the Nets

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Kristian Winfield, New York Daily News
·3 min read
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Andre Drummond may not be headed to the Nets after all. In fact, he may be headed to a team Brooklyn could see if it reaches the NBA Finals. That will be a matchup nightmare for a Nets team whose Achilles heel this season has been interior defense, specifically defending bruiser-type centers like Drummond.

The Mount Vernon product and two-time All-Star center was linked to the Nets as a potential candidate on the buyout market, but ESPN reports Drummond is in Los Angeles and drawing significant interest from the Lakers. He has yet to negotiate a buyout with the Cleveland Cavaliers, who are still searching for a trade partner to take on the remainder of Drummond’s $28.7 million salary before his contract expires at the end of this season.

It’s a situation similar to that of the Pistons, who were unable to find a suitor willing to trade for Blake Griffin’s remaining salary, and he joined the Nets on a veteran’s minimum contract after negotiating a contract buyout in Detroit.

If no one wants to play ball with the Cavaliers, Drummond will become a free agent soon, and recent indicators suggest he is taking his talents out West to play with LeBron James and Anthony Davis.

The fit in Brooklyn was shaky at best: Adding Drummond would have further crowded a loaded Brooklyn front court. The Nets start DeAndre Jordan at center but have also given Jeff Green and Nicolas Claxton minutes at the five. They recently added six-time All-Star Blake Griffin on the buyout market and are expecting Kevin Durant to play a significant role when he returns from his hamstring injury.

Drummond to the Lakers presents an issue for a Nets team that has struggled to defend the interior. Brooklyn averages 50.5 points allowed in the paint per game, the fourth-most behind just the Sacramento Kings, Minnesota Timberwolves and Indiana Pacers. Drummond took advantage of that weakness in both of the back-to-back defeats the Cavaliers handed the Nets in late January, including a 19-point, 16-rebound and four-assist performance.

Should he sign in Los Angeles, the Nets would have their hands full: They would have to keep Drummond, Davis, James and Montrezl Harrell off the glass, as well as Kyle Kuzma, who has leaned into his role as an aggressive offensive rebounder this season.

That is a tall order for Jordan, Green, Claxton, Griffin, and a Nets team that has struggled to keep physical bigs both out of the paint and off the glass.

Drummond could also level the playing field for the Lakers after the Nets secured three of the league’s best offensive stars in Durant, James Harden and Kyrie Irving. The Lakers did not go for a third star over the offseason and instead opted to sign a pair of Sixth Man of the Year candidates in Harrell and reserve point guard Dennis Schroder. Drummond averaged 17.5 points, 13.5 rebounds and over a steal and a block per game this season in Cleveland and, in a front court with Davis and James, could give the Lakers a profile that poses size issues for the Nets.

Drummond still has to get to Los Angeles. The Cavaliers have until Thursday’s NBA Trade Deadline to make a deal, and they would much rather trade Drummond for assets and players than pay (at a discount) for him to leave for nothing. Other teams, however, likely won’t want to give those assets or players for a talent who is going to leave the following summer.

And those teams usually don’t have a good track record of convincing marquee players to stay, especially when that player wants to play for a marquee franchise.