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It’s official: Andre Drummond signs with Lakers

Andre Drummond looks to drive while defended by Nuggets center Nikola Jokic.
Andre Drummond looks to drive against Nuggets center Nikola Jokic during a Cavaliers game Feb. 10 in Denver.
(David Zalubowski / Associated Press)

Free-agent center Andre Drummond, a solid low-post presence and one of the top rebounders in the NBA, cleared waivers Sunday and signed with the Lakers.

The team made the announcement about an hour before the start of their game Sunday night against the Orlando Magic.

“Andre Drummond gives us powerful, anchor-point skills on both ends of the court,” said Rob Pelinka, the Lakers’ general manager and vice president of basketball operations, in a statement released by the team. “We feel extremely fortunate to add a player of his caliber and magnitude to our core group at this stage of our journey to defend the NBA title.”

Drummond, who led the NBA in rebounding four times between 2015-16 and last season, has become a reliable scorer inside by averaging more than 17 points a game the last five seasons.

In 25 games with the Cavaliers this season, the 6-foot-10, two-time All-Star averaged 17.5 points, 13.5 rebounds, 1.6 steals and 1.2 blocks. A career 46.7% free-throw shooter, he was a career-worst 47.4% from the field this season.

With the Lakers missing All-Star forwards LeBron James and Anthony Davis because of injuries — Davis, despite being cleared to increase some intensity in his on-court work, is still not close to returning from his calf injury — there was concern that an offensive void needed to be filled in the team’s frontcourt.

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Cleveland hoped to trade Drummond before Thursday’s deadline, but the Cavaliers, unable to find the right deal, officially bought the 27-year-old center out of the remainder of his $28-million contract Friday, making him an unrestricted free agent once he clears waivers at 2 p.m. PDT on Sunday.

Here is a look at why free-agent center Andre Drummond, who plans to sign with the Lakers after he clears waivers, fits with the team.

Drummond, a ninth-year pro, has not played since Feb. 12 after Cleveland decided to bench him while it sought a trade and gave a bulk of the playing time to third-year center Jarrett Allen, whom the Cavaliers acquired Jan. 12 from Brooklyn in the multiple-team trade that sent James Harden from Houston to the Nets.

Cleveland coach J.B. Bickerstaff said he believes Drummond will be a valuable piece for a contender.

“He has the ability to single-handedly shut down the paint with his intelligence, being in the right spot, and his ability to defensive rebound the ball.

“And then on the offensive end, he’s a threat,” Bickerstaff said on a videoconference before Friday’s loss to the Lakers. “You gotta send bodies to him when he’s in the pick-and-roll to keep him off the glass or keep him from finishing. So I think he’d be an asset, big time, to any contender.

“We know in the playoffs, defense is gonna get it done. Like I said, he can single-handedly impact and change a game on that side of the floor for sure.”


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