Detroit Pistons big man Andre Drummond has been a constant source of trade scuttle this season, as his team appears ready to initiate a full-scale rebuild. Drummond, a two-time All-Star, is averaging 17.5 points, 15.8 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 2.0 steals and 1.7 blocks per game on the year, making him one of the league’s top stat-stuffers. However, those impressive raw metrics have not led to much team success for Detroit, who are 18-34 in 2019-20 despite having the NBA’s sixth-most expensive payroll. What’s more, the Pistons are 5.2 points per 100 possessions worse with Drummond on the floor this year, raising questions about how impactful of a player he actually is.
Even so, it’s hard to ignore the 26-year-old’s ridiculous level of production, and when Drummond is focused, he can be destructive on both ends of the floor thanks to his elite size and athleticism.
HoopsHype recently discussed Drummond’s trade value and potential destinations with various league executives, and the responses were very interesting.
One Eastern Conference general manager told us: “Andre Drummond is a bigger risk [than D’Angelo Russell] since he can hit unrestricted free agency this summer. But for a team that’s in go-for-it mode who may not care about anything beyond this season, he could be worth a first-round pick in return in that scenario.”
The only problem with that notion is that on top of draft capital, the Pistons reportedly want an expiring contract in exchange for Drummond, since they’d prefer to rid their books of bad money to make their impending rebuild a bit easier. That’s a rather pricey haul for a player with so many question marks.
Another Eastern Conference executive told HoopsHype: “Drummond just hasn’t won and I think teams would be somewhat cautious in adding him. […] I just think it will be a small-market team for him. I would think a good player/players and a first-round pick would be the asking price for Drummond.”
The small-market-team option for Drummond makes sense, since those are the organizations that typically struggle to attract free agents and need to be aggressive in the trade market if they want to acquire All-Star-level talents.
Meanwhile, a third league executive had this to say about a potential haul for Drummond: “As for picks, the return for Andre Drummond will probably be closer to one first-round pick – if I had to guess.”
It seems the overall consensus is if the Pistons want a first-rounder for Drummond, they may be able to get one if a team gets desperate enough by Thursday’s deadline, but if they ask for anything more, it’s more than likely not going to happen.
And that makes sense, because of the fact that Drummond has a player option on his contract this summer and could possibly end up a free agent – so why give up coveted draft assets for the behemoth center now, when you can just make him a priority in free agency this offseason instead? Unless a team badly wants Drummond’s Bird Rights and the ability to go over the cap to re-sign him in a few months, giving up anything of valuable to acquire him now just wouldn’t be all that wise.
As far as potential destinations for Drummond, one of the league execs who was polled told HoopsHype: “I’ve heard the New York Knicks and the Dallas Mavericks as some other possible landing spots for Drummond.”
Of those rumored destinations, Dallas might be the most interesting since they have need at the 5-spot following the loss of Dwight Powell to injury for the season, and have Luka Doncic, their best and most productive player, signed to a rookie-scale deal for another two years, meaning they’re able to spend a little more recklessly on other parts of their roster for the time being. A half-season rental of Drummond, who would fit quite well next to the perimeter-oriented Kristaps Porzingis, could be a savvy move for the Mavericks.
That same league exec continued, sharing his thoughts on what Dallas could send Detroit for Drummond. “Dallas could offer Jalen Brunson, Maxi Kleber and maybe a first-round pick,” the executive said, pointing out that Drummond’s trade value is limited due to his upcoming unrestricted free agency, which is why Detroit may settle for a decent package in return since the alternative could be losing him for nothing in July.
That would lock in the Mavericks to a core of Doncic, Porzingis and Drummond for the foreseeable future, though, so it wouldn’t be an easy decision to come to.
Another Eastern Conference executive mentioned the Boston Celtics as a potential Drummond suitor, a landing spot that would make some sense since the team is rumored to be after another center ahead of the trade deadline. But Drummond would be a riskier pick up than Steven Adams, a big man who has been connected with Boston in recent days and is under contract through next season, due to his ability to hit free agency this summer, so Boston might look elsewhere for help at the 5.
At the end of the day, Detroit is in a tough spot.
They really have no choice but to rebuild at this point, with such an expensive roster that has proven so little over the past few years, but the two players they probably would like to move most to free up future cap flexibility, Drummond and injured power forward Blake Griffin, could be difficult to trade until the summer, and even then, probably won’t return all that much.
In Drummond’s case, that’s doubly painful since there’s a very real chance the Pistons lose him for nothing in free agency.
At the same time, it’s impossible to ever count a blockbuster trade coming out of nowhere in the NBA, so keep an eye on what happens with Drummond through 3 pm EST on Thursday.
HoopsHype’s Alex Kennedy contributed to this report.
You can follow Frank Urbina on Twitter: @FrankUrbina_.