NBA: Top 5 buyout candidates after the trade deadline

MIAMI, FLORIDA - JANUARY 15: LaMarcus Aldridge #12 of the San Antonio Spurs looks on against the Miami Heat during the first half at American Airlines Arena on January 15, 2020 in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FLORIDA - JANUARY 15: LaMarcus Aldridge #12 of the San Antonio Spurs looks on against the Miami Heat during the first half at American Airlines Arena on January 15, 2020 in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /
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Andre Drummond, Cleveland Cavaliers
NBA Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images /

Top 5 buyout candidates: Andre Drummond, C, Cleveland Cavaliers

One common reason veterans hit the buyout market is when their contracts are simply too large to find a trade partner. Teams will contort themselves to make a trade work for a star-level player such as Kyle Lowry or Nikola Vucevic, but players on a lower rung often have to wait to negotiate a buyout.

That looks to be what is happening with Andre Drummond, the Cleveland Cavaliers center who has been riding the pine for weeks pending a trade. The 6’10” former Detroit Piston knows how to fill up a box score, averaging 17.5 points, 13.5 rebounds, 1.6 steals and 1.2 blocks per game this season. Still just 27 years old, Drummond has a lot left in the tank to offer teams. His production level is so high it can’t simply be chalked up to empty calories.

Who’s Interested? The Los Angeles Lakers are rumored to be a strong candidate to employ Drummond the rest of the season, as they can offer a role on a true championship contender. He would certainly give them an element they don’t currently have, a rim-running center on offense who can protect the rim on defense; their current centers offer only one of those skills at a time. If Drummond’s goal is to get a ring this season, the Lakers are the best choice.

That may not be his goal, however. Drummond is not at the age most veteran players go “ring chasing” and he could instead be looking to secure a lucrative long-term deal this offseason. The New York Knicks would give him plenty of playing time on a team with the salary flexibility to offer a contract now or this offseason.

The Boston Celtics need another center, as do the Charlotte Hornets. Either could be a longer-term option as well. The Brooklyn Nets likely don’t need a center after adding Blake Griffin and seeing Nic Claxton pop, but they are rumored to still be hunting for one. Drummond should have more options than most in deciding where to land.