NBA Rumor: Andre Drummond Free Agency

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First is the team’s salary cap situation. When asked about that Friday morning, Altman couldn’t provide any clarity. Drummond’s $28.7 million player option determines how much space the Cavs will have this offseason. Altman admitted he “doesn’t know” what Drummond will decide. Even though Drummond isn’t with the team this week and won’t be joining them at all for this bubble, he’s stayed engaged. Drummond and head coach J.B. Bickerstaff have been in contact. Drummond has been part of team Zoom calls.

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Andre Drummond likely to opt in

Another way Altman and Co. can help Bickerstaff is through free agency. Much of their plan is hinges on Andre Drummond and whether he’ll opt out. According to the team source, all signs suggest that Drummond “probably will” exercise his $28,751,774 player option. Drummond said as much during an appearance on ESPN’s Le Batard & Friends Network podcast. “Yeah, that’s going to be pretty hard to give up, so you can count on me being in Cleveland still,” Drummond said in June. Later in the interview, he added: “I definitely will be in Cleveland.”
3 months ago via ESPN

Andre Drummond opting in

Two-time All-Star Andre Drummond says he plans to pick up his player option that will keep him in Cleveland for another year. Drummond, who was traded to the Cavaliers by the Detroit Pistons in February, has a $28.75 million option for the 2020-21 season. He said on Tuesday’s episode of ESPN’s Le Batard & Friends — STUpodity podcast that he “definitely” will be in Cleveland next season. “Yeah, it’s going to be hard to give up, so you can count on me being in Cleveland still,” Drummond said when pressed on whether he plans to exercise his option. “I definitely will be in Cleveland.”

While Drummond is likely to exercise his $28.7 million player option, the pandemic has led to a loss of revenue, which will likely impact future salary caps. When Drummond makes the choice to stay, the Cavs’ path to external improvement will be blocked. They could also consider a Drummond contract extension, although that seems unlikely given how short his stint has been. There are other decisions ahead — on free agents Ante Zizic, Dellavedova and Thompson as well as the always-lingering possibility of trading Love. The Cavs will have months to figure out their plans while 22 other teams are in Disney.

The thing is, the reality of Cleveland’s situation may prevent that from happening. Right now, Love, Drummond and Larry Nance Jr., all staples for the Cavaliers’ big man rotation account for roughly 52% of the team’s payroll at $68.7 million. Next season, Nance will be here under contract and the team will likely have both Love and Drummond here as well, per league sources. Drummond plans on opting into his $28.7 million player option and Love will be hard to move with the NBA salary cap expected to go down due to the coronavirus pandemic. With that in mind, all three aforementioned players will combine for $78.1 million total next year.

The thing is, the reality of Cleveland’s situation may prevent that from happening. Right now, Love, Drummond and Larry Nance Jr., all staples for the Cavaliers’ big man rotation account for roughly 52% of the team’s payroll at $68.7 million. Next season, Nance will be here under contract and the team will likely have both Love and Drummond here as well, per league sources. Drummond plans on opting into his $28.7 million player option and Love will be hard to move with the NBA salary cap expected to go down due to the coronavirus pandemic. With that in mind, all three aforementioned players will combine for $78.1 million total next year.

According to multiple sources, Drummond picking up his option remains most likely. It’s also most logical. Just look at what the Pistons received at the deadline. It was a salary dump, Detroit wanting to clean up the books and avoid paying him north of $28 million for 20-21. That’s a perfect portrait of his declining value. In this pace-and-space era, with shooting and perimeter skill so vital, some centers are still worth that bulky price tag. Drummond isn’t one of them.

Andre Drummond ($28.6 million) is soon facing a very harsh and frustrating reality. In the past few offseasons, centers have been getting smaller and smaller guaranteed deals. In 2018, a considerably low cap-space offseason, we saw non-stretch centers Clint Capela and Jusuf Nurkic earn $16 million and $12 million annually, respectively. Charlotte and New York are the only two teams with significant cap space who make some sense for Drummond, but it’s hard to see either team shelling most of their cap space just to him. If Drummond were to opt-out and test the market, he might end up getting offered similar figures as Capela and Nurkic did. That is a steep paycut overnight, and because he was traded in February he is not extension eligible for the rest of the season. If he were to opt-out, it probably won’t be without assurances of a lucrative deal via a cap space team or a sign-and-trade. Otherwise, expect him to opt-in.

Andre Drummond to be traded again?

There’s some belief around the league that the Cavaliers could look to flip Drummond as early as this summer. “I don’t think [Drummond and the Cavs] will last long,” one former NBA general manager said. “I could see them trading him to a team this summer if he agrees to pick up his option. They could also do a sign-and-trade if he agrees to a new long-term deal. I don’t think he’ll be in Cleveland for long.”

Altman admitted he and Drummond hadn’t talked about what he would do with his option before the trade, but he was fine sacrificing the Cavaliers’ upcoming salary-cap space for him. “Absolutely, we consider him a potential long-term play,” Altman said. “Obviously, he has a player option that if he picks up, we think we’re in good shape in terms of our cap space. There’s no better money spent than on Andre Drummond if he picks up his option.”

The Pistons were worried about Drummond possibly picking up his $28.7 million player option for the 2020-21 season, keeping the Pistons from having any financial flexibility. Altman said there haven’t been discussions yet about what Drummond will do on that front. That’s for another day. Their chat after the deal was done centered more on how Drummond felt about the trade, his fit in Cleveland, when he was expected to arrive, all the usual stuff.

The Pistons continue to be ready to move off of Andre Drummond, as Detroit begins (another) rebuild. Interest in Drummond, as you might imagine, has been downright cool. His $27 million salary is a problem, as is a growing feeling that Drummond could opt into a nearly $29 million salary next season. As strong a rebounder as Drummond is—and Detroit’s guards make him look infinitely worse on the perimeter than he can be—there are concerns among some executives about his passion for the game. That’s unnerving. Reggie Jackson can be had if a team is willing to surrender an asset for an injury plagued player in the final year of his contract.

No max for Andre Drummond?

There is a scenario in which Detroit could trade its franchise center this season. Again, it’ll depend on where the Pistons are in the playoff race by the time the deadline inches closer. There also is a scenario in which the Pistons could let him walk in free agency. And, of course, depending on if the Pistons can turn it around, he could return next year on a new contract. One source said Drummond likely will sign a new contract that averages somewhere between $20 million and $25 million annually, not the max.

Hornets to pursue Andre Drummond?

The Hornets are remaking the roster and they’ve gotten themselves pretty well stocked with young guards and wings in the process, plus Washington. But there’s still a glaring hole in the middle and as the Hornets are primed to finally be rid of some of the albatross contracts that have weighed the franchise since its last playoff appearance (in 2016). At long last, they are in position to fill that void. The target, according to league sources: Pistons big man Andre Drummond, a player in whom the Hornets have had an interest for at least a year.

It could be time for the Hornets to do something the franchise does not typically do: get aggressive. “He’ll be a priority there,” one league executive told Heavy.com. “It’s just a matter of whether they make him a priority now and give up something to get him or try to make the move later. It’s a very cautious group, Mitch Kupchak and those guys. But they might want to get this guy into the fold sooner rather than later, there’s just a lot of incentive there on both sides.”

Andre Drummond talks free agency

Whether he’s playing for another team or returning to the Pistons, Drummond is changing his perception around the league and solidifying himself as a good two-way center. The rub for the Pistons’ front office will be if that transformation leads to a run in the playoffs. That will determine whether Drummond gets another big contract or if he will end up somewhere else as a free agent. “At the end of the day, I can’t control what the front office wants to do in terms of the contract stuff. The only thing I can control right now is playing the game the right way and putting my team in a good position to win. Whatever happens after that happens,” Drummond told The News. “Obviously, I would enjoy playing for the rest of my career in Detroit. Whatever happens at the end of the year happens and we’ll figure it out when that time comes.”

“You know how committed I am to Andre,” Gores said. “We both know the process. I said it many times, he’s very underrated in a lot of ways, for that he does. Culturally, he’s been so good for this team, just in terms of his attitude. I met him when he was 18, just watching him grow up, I’m real proud of him. “We’re committed to each other, but we just got to run the process. Everybody is talking at a business level. We have a lot of respect for each other. It’s early.”

Dwane Casey on Andre Drummond’s (likely) upcoming free agency: “Andre understands and knows who he is, what he means to us, how important he is to our program, where he is in his career, where he stands in the league. I try to stay out of the contract part of it. I’m there for him. My thing is, I want every one of our players to be rewarded, but the only way you’re rewarded in this league is by winning. I look back to Toronto and see Kyle Lowry with $100 million or whatever it was. That’s the same conversation I had with (Lowry). I hope that (Drummond) gets every penny that is coming to him, but the only way we accomplish that together is through winning. … That’s the basics of contract talks. I don’t get into that other stuff.”

Because Drummond seemed to confirm he was likely to opt out of his deal and that he was excited when asked if he was looking forward to being a free agent. Drummond attempted to quiet both his critics and his worried fans by going to Instagram: “For those who are confused about my comment about free agency let me break this down … My point was I’m excited to go thru the process because I never been thru it, doesn’t mean I’m trying to leave detroit . I love it here”

Jackson, you could say, has an investment in Drummond too, after signing a five-year, $80 million contract with the Pistons over the summer. “He’s a big reason, reason 1A-1B, I went solely into staying here,” Jackson said. “He was always on me about making sure I signed. So I’m just trying to make sure everything’s going in the right direction to still be here and try and make a lot of memories.” Drummond will become a restricted free agent once his current contract expires after the 2015-16 season. Both sides have said they want the other, with head coach Stan Van Gundy reiterating that to reporters again on Tuesday, and the Pistons hold a leg up having the option of matching any future offers.

Jackson said the two spoke privately about the decision, made by Drummond in lockstep with his agent, Jeff Schwartz, and Pistons owner Tom Gores, and called it a big one for his future. “It’s a mature move either way,” Jackson said. “Whatever he decides is what he decides. I just would love to know that I have this guy with me during my tenure being here, wearing this red and blue. I just want what’s best for Andre. I want what’s best for his career. I definitely want him to be here and I want to make a lot of memories and a lot of highlights in the Palace and bring back this city.”
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