The Cleveland Cavaliers have made it clear that the organization has no plans to play Andre Drummond any further until a resolution is reached regarding his future.
March 25th marks the NBA’s trade deadline. By that point Cleveland will either deal Drummond to a willing partner or buy him out.
Drummond is currently in the final year of a $28.7 million expiring contract. He has been linked to two potential trade suitors who have the salaries necessary to match that dollar amount, but its sheer size limits the amount of options Cleveland has in regards to making something happen.
Thus far, Drummond has averaged 17.5 points on 48 percent shooting from the field and 13.5 rebounds per game this year.
So who can realistically make a play for him at this juncture? If a trade goes down, it has to be one of the few squads in the league with enough contract to send back in exchange for him.
In the event of a buyout, however, things can get really interesting.
According to Jason Lloyd of The Athletic, four legitimate championship-level suitors await Drummond in the event of a buyout. Those suitors: the Miami Heat, Milwaukee Bucks, Brooklyn Nets and Los Angeles Lakers.
“It only takes one injury or one team to change its mind, but at this point, Drummond seems headed for a buyout,” he wrote. “Miami, Milwaukee, Brooklyn and the Lakers all make sense on some level if Drummond is bought out by the Cavs.”
Miami is a fascinating option because the team desperately needs a talent upgrade of some sort. The Heat are 11-16 on the year and look nowhere near as formidable as they did on their run to the Finals last year.
To date, the front office has made overtures to the Washington Wizards regarding Bradley Beal and the Houston Rockets concerning Victor Oladipo, but it remains to be seen what ultimately happens on that front.
Picking Drummond up after a buyout would permit Miami to retain its assets for a potential trade, while simultaneously immediately upgrading its frontcourt.
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Milwaukee also makes a ton of sense here. It was made clear before the season began that this is a make or break year for head coach Mike Budenholzer. The Bucks don’t necessarily need to win a championship, but they do need to advance further in the postseason than they previously have.
Regular season production notwithstanding, Drummond would be able to feast on a team like the Brooklyn Nets in the playoffs and would at make the Bucks more formidable against Joel Embiid and the Philadelphia 76ers than they otherwise would’ve been.
The Lakers are also an obvious option now that Anthony Davis is out for at least three weeks. Mind you, he has the same sort of injury that has kept Kevin Love out of action for months now, so LA’s timetable for his return is actually a lot more optimistic than it is realistic.
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Drummond could shore things up down low for the Lakers, and LeBron James would be able to mask a lot of his stat-padding weaknesses that are substantially more glaring on lesser teams. LA is also reportedly one of two teams in the hunt for Blake Griffin, and that roster spot would be far more efficiently utilized if it went Drummond instead.
Finally, don’t sleep on the Nets. As noted, Brooklyn has a huge hole in the paint that needs to be plugged. From a defensive standpoint, going into the playoffs with DeAndre Jordan as your primary big is just begging for trouble. Steve Nash has explicitly spelled out on numerous occasions that the Nets have one major weakness, and Drummond would definitely fill that void at least partially.
One way or another, it’s clear that Drummond isn’t long for Cleveland. Where will he ultimately end up? We’re less than a month away from finding out.