CHICAGO – Dethroning the Los Angeles Lakers won’t be easy, if they’re completely healthy. There’s a reason defending champs are considered the betting favorites. Matching the star power of the Brooklyn Nets, Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and James Harden could prove difficult for Eastern Conference contenders despite the Philadelphia 76ers and Milwaukee Bucks ranking higher.
Now imagine either one with Andre Drummond.
That’s the Cleveland Cavaliers’ best and only influence, as the front office continues to poll the league for a potential business partner. Multiple sources who spoke to cleveland.com saw the chances of a Drummond trade as a 50-50 proposal Wednesday night. The other half of that equation is a purchase, the path that leads Drummond to choose his next team.
The widespread belief if the purchase goes through: the Lakers and Nets would be the pioneers, beating the Dallas Mavericks, Los Angeles Clippers, Boston Celtics, New York Knicks, Miami Heat or any other team that has been linked during this crazy month .
Do any of those teams, which are considered contenders, want to sit idle and allow the Lakers, with limited capital and scarce resources, to address their most urgent need? The same goes for the Nets, who have been looking for another inside presence since they traded Jarrett Allen in the Harden trade. Brooklyn and Los Angeles. Great markets. Lots of talent. An opportunity to play great minutes. A chance for a ring. How does Drummond reject that? Hell, ESPN reported that he was already in Los Angeles, and it certainly wasn’t to meet his Cleveland teammates on the track early Thursday.
Although Drummond is not the best fit stylistically for LeBron James due to his propensity to utilize offensive possessions with pole touches, face-up and strange isolation attacks, as well as a desire to play a major role and claim high usage rate, The Lakers’ starting center position is ridiculous, averaging a miniscule 4.8 points on 43.5% shooting and 4.0 rebounds. Drummond with the Cavs: 17.5 points on 47.4% from the field and 13.5 rebounds.
There’s an opening gig waiting for you, and given your other options currently, that addition would only make Los Angeles more formidable.
The Nets need playable bodies for little money. They’ve already added former Drummond teammate Blake Griffin and have changed the roster a lot more. Iman Shumpert. Norvel Pelle. Noah Vonleh. Tyler Cook. Andre Roberson. Alize Johnson. Brooklyn has been trying to put together the back half of its rotation with spares. Given the cost of acquiring Harden, it seems unlikely to make a big deal on Thursday. Like in Los Angeles, Drummond could play a big role with the Nets.
That’s where Drummond’s other suitors come in. They want to push the front court Y keep him away from Los Angeles or Brooklyn? Trade for him. That is probably the only option.
The Dallas Morning News reported on the Mavericks’ interest. But only by purchase. Dallas is currently the seventh seed in the Western Conference. The Lakers are within a game and a half of second place. The Mavericks could move up. The Lakers fell due to an injury to James and Anthony Davis. Either way, Dallas-LA could be a first-round playoff series. If the Mavericks, who have obvious rebounding deficiencies and a couple of expiring contracts to match pay, like Drummond enough to consider signing him, why not pay the low price on a trade?
Also worth noting are the Knicks, who are a wild card because of their salary cap space. New York, with former Cavaliers executive Brock Aller in the front office, is $ 15 million under the limit, giving it two routes that others cannot take.
In a Drummond trade, the Knicks don’t have to match his $ 28.7 million. New York would only need to send about $ 14 million. It’s much easier to find expendable, non-rotating players to add that up rather than double that number. That’s why they still seem like the best fit in the trade. On the other hand, in a purchase of Drummond, the Knicks could offer much more than the minimum. There is a unique opportunity to pre-spend the space at the summer limit, something Aller did several times while in Cleveland, including with Drummond last February.
That result could also attract Drummond, who, according to sources, told his teammates earlier this season that he would get the most in summer free agency. How often do players sign for the minimum and then turn around and get great deals? It is difficult to change the perception, especially in the face of a major off-season.
The Cavs believe there is a trade, even if it means bringing in a third or fourth team. Opposition executives disagree. Pessimism is easy to grasp. It is not a lack of interest. Drummond is a two-time All-Star with an expiring contract and could be a career booster if used correctly and fully embraced – two variables that shouldn’t be a problem for a contender. It is that massive salary, which limits the number of realistic parties.
Most of the players around their cap are really good and therefore unavailable, or overpaid and unattractive.
It is not worth breaking a competitive core in an exchange. But competitive it could become a relative term if Drummond joins the Lakers or Nets. Isn’t there an inherent value in preventing that?
I guess we’ll find out on Thursday afternoon.
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