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Will Andre Drummond be next Nets vs. Lakers ‘faceoff?’

Brooklyn Nets v Cleveland Cavaliers Photo by David Liam Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images

It’s everywhere ... the rumor that if Andre Drummond gets bought out by the Cavaliers, he’s bound for either the Lakers or Nets.

On a Locker Room chat Wednesday night, Marc Stein said it simply, if Andre Drummond hits free agency, it will be a “Nets versus Lakers faceoff.” This comes two days after Stein tweeted that “There is optimism within the Lakers that they will get strong consideration from Andre Drummond if Drummond ultimately leaves the Cavaliers via buyout, league sources say.”

Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer in his Power Rankings Monday said something similar.

League sources say (the Lakers) have interest in free agent DeMarcus Cousins, but Drummond is their preference if he gets bought out. Drummond has been benched while the Cavaliers seek a trade, but there’s doubt around the league that they’ll be able to find one due to his massive $28.8 million salary.

If Drummond does end up hitting the buyout market, consider the Lakers and Nets as the two favorites to add him.

Chris Haynes of Yahoo! Sports told Shannon Sharpe and Skip Bayless of FOX Sports Wednesday that he too sees a Nets-Lakers competition for the 6’11”, 280 pound big man. The Lakers need a big man as insurance if Anthony Davis remains a question mark with his Achilles strain.

Andre Drummond is a name that’s on the list. There’s serious interest there. Drummond also has interest from the Brooklyn Nets as well.

Then, of course, there was the still mysterious tweet from Bears receiver Allen Robinson II...

What does Robinson know?

Of course, the Cavaliers want to trade the 27-year-old who’s led the NBA in rebounds in three of the last four years. They shut him down after deciding Jarrett Allen, who’s five year younger, is their center of the future. Now, they have two weeks to make a deal and according to Brian Windhorst, Cleveland is “playing hardball” with Drummond. While “they’ve had legitimate offers,” they’re looking for a trade package that will allow them add to their stash of draft assets or stable of young talent.

“The Cavs have told teams that have called that they’re not giving him away,” WIndhorst added.

So, don’t expect much to transpire on a buyout until the Cavs exhaust all their options in the trade market. But if the Cavs can’t find a taker, then it’s likely there were will be buyout talks. Drummond makes $28.75 million this year and by the time those talks begin, he will have been paid more than half that amount. And the Nets, of course, have two exceptions they could use to sweeten an offer to Drummond, something the Lakers don’t have. The buyout deadline is two weeks after the trade deadline, April 9.

What’s the reward/risk of the Nets taking on Drummond? At 27, he’s moving into the prime of his career and a combination of strength and athleticism is unique, but he’s been followed by rumors that he’s not a team player, that his ego could get in the way of a championship mentality.

He would be less of an on-court risk than say Blake Griffin whose biggest issue is his declining athleticism (unless of course, the Nets vaunted performance team cooks up some dunking elixir.)

As for connections, there’s at least one. Drummond, James Harden and Kyrie Irving were teammates on Team USA’s gold medal-winning squad. Does it matter how the “Big Three” think? Of course. Before James Harden trade, Sean Marks and Joe Tsai consulted with Kevin Durant and Irving, according to The Athletic. He also shares an agent, Jeff Schwartz, with Griffin and DeAndre Jordan.

Of course, there’s likely to be other buyout candidates and the Steve Nash recently made a clear statement that the Nets are being flexible to take advantage of that possibility whether they want to bring in Drummond or J.J. Redick or Otto Porter Jr. or LaMarcus Aldridge.