Andre Drummond is one of the most talented young big men in the NBA, which is why the Lakers acquiring him after the Cleveland Cavaliers decided to buy him out made headlines across the basketball world. Drummond signed with the Lakers for the remainder of the 2020-21 season at just under eight-hundred thousand dollars, well below his average salary.
After a somewhat disappointing few months with the Lakers, Andre will become an unrestricted free agent this summer. While the Lakers would be remiss to let him walk, salary cap and chemistry issues suggest some uncertainty as to where Drummond will be playing next season. Drummond himself is unsure where he will be playing next season and refused to get speculation going on his guest appearance on the Pardon My Take podcast by Barstool Sports.
From talking about former teammate and fellow buyout gem Blake Griffin, the conversation took a quick turn, and Drummond was asked, "Where are you going to be playing next year?" He was then urged to name his five favorite cities in the United States, to which he finally responded with "Shanghai, China." The response was followed by tons of laughs because unless Andre has always dreamt of moving to China and wants to experience living there, the young center will still be in the NBA next year and making about 15-20 million a year.
At this rate, it is unlikely like the Lakers can bring him back for the contract value that Drummond deserves. He struggled with the Lakers, but this was largely due to the limited time on-court with Anthony Davis and LeBron James. With Andre's youth and skill set, he should command quite the market in free agency, so the likelihood of him not being a Laker next year is pretty high. The Lakers should bring him back, but they do have many more pressing personnel concerns that need addressing. They stand to benefit more by going after some offensive weapons and shoring up their perimeter defense.
"What if Frank Vogel goes to Shanghai and you go back to playing 15 minutes a game?"
Pardon My Take
Vogel's defense-first coaching philosophy is the main reason why Drummond saw such little time on the floor during his time with the Lakers. He was constantly being attacked on the pick and roll by faster players and did not have the cohesion with AD and LeBron to allow him to make up for points he was giving up by dominating the paint on offense. In stretches where the Lakers needed stops, Vogel elected to play veteran Marc Gasol instead of Drummond despite the former looking like he was on his last legs on most days. The problem then with keeping Drummond is that the Lakers cannot afford to pay big money for a player that they are not even going to use 30-35 minutes a game. Besides, everybody knows that the Lakers are at their best when AD plays the five. In fact, the league must be breathing a sigh of relief knowing that AD not liking playing the five is the main reason why the Lakers don't use him in that spot more.
When talking destinations with the hosts of the pod, Drummond did not mention names of NBA cities but instead said that he is open to any team in the league except for one. That city was Portland, sans Damian Lillard, which makes total sense and gives us a clear picture of Andre's plans this offseason. He may very well be saying he is open to any city as a PR move. Still, if he is open to all teams except a Dame-less Portland Trail Blazers, this tells us he views himself as an elite player deserving of elite-level pay that can go to any team and make them a contender. Well, taking control of your future is what free agency is all about, and it looks like Andre's focus is on doing just that. Whether this is good news or bad news for the Lakers, though, remains to be seen.
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