NBA Rumor: Andre Drummond Trade?

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While everyone waits (and waits …) to see what happens around the league, a quick note on the reported interest by the Knicks in Andre Drummond. Because the Knicks are still $15 million below the salary cap, there are two potential avenues open to New York that are not to other teams. First, if there were to be a trade for Drummond, the Knicks don’t need to match his entire salary. New York just needs to send the Cavs at least $13.7 million in salary, and because of this, a trade would likely help Cleveland generate a large trade exception. For example, a combo of Nerlens Noel, Frank Ntilikina and Austin Rivers would get it done and generate a $14 million exception for the Cavs.

Ryan Ward: According to @SBD, Andre Drummond has the best odds to be trade before the NBA trade deadline on Thursday: – Andre Drummond: -150 – Aaron Gordon: +110 – Victor Oladipo: +125 – Evan Fournier: +150 – LaMarcus Aldridge: +155

Cavaliers haven't found taker for Andre Drummond, his attitude a reason why

As for (what the Cavs hope is) their key trade piece, last season’s leading NBA rebounder, Andre Drummond, they still can’t find any takers. What most teams would have to throw in to satisfy the salary requirements of a swap (he makes nearly $29 million) is definitely a huge hurdle for the Cavs to clear, and there are some reputational issues to consider.

Before the Cavs decided to bench Drummond until they could trade him, they asked him multiple times to accept playing fewer minutes, with Jarrett Allen on the roster, and even asked him to come off the bench. He refused, and there are teams that otherwise would be interested in considering a trade for him that are aware of such issues. If/when he gets a buyout, as is oft-reported, there will be a number of suitors for him. So his attitude is not a deal-breaker; it’s just a second reason to pause when most teams would also have to consider giving up rotation players just to make a trade for Drummond work

Cavaliers confident about finding a trade for Andre Drummond

The Cavs still believe there’s enough interest that they will be able to move Drummond, an unrestricted free agent following this season, for something. Then again, the interest level has never been their biggest hurdle. It’s Drummond’s bulky $28.7 million salary that’s tough to match with outgoing — and expendable — contracts. Not every team is a financial fit. Not every team is a schematic fit either.

For now, Dallas appears first interested in adding a center to help supplement Porzingis, sources said. The Mavericks have circled Andre Drummond as the Cleveland Cavaliers look to move in a different frontcourt direction of their own, but Dallas has expressed no interest in parting with Porzingis in those particular talks. “They want a big to pair with him,” one league source said. “Obviously with physicality, rebounding, toughness.”

When asked about Toronto as a landing spot, all four league sources pointed to the difficulty of the mechanics of a Drummond-Toronto trade. A two-team trade between Cleveland and Toronto is unlikely. Unless Toronto is willing to move Norman Powell in such a deal (which it shouldn’t be), it would require a five-for-one construction of Aron Baynes, Chris Boucher, Stanley Johnson, Patrick McCaw and DeAndre’ Bembry (Baynes, Boucher, Johnson, McCaw and a true minimum isn’t quite enough salary to meet trade requirements).

Personally, I don’t think I’d be all that interested in acquiring Drummond in a trade. Having said that, NBA teams are somewhat higher on him than I am. I asked four executives whether or not they’d be interested in acquiring Drummond and got a range of responses. The word “motivation” came up a lot, which is understandable for such a mercurial talent. “If he got on the right team or the right situation, you could see him play one or two months with really great motivation where he makes an impact,” one NBA executive said. “It would take a good team and a good coach. I could see getting the best version of Drummond we’ve seen in a while and not getting exposed until he gets matched up with Joel Embiid or someone else like that in the playoffs.”

“How would he react to a more limited role?” another high-ranking NBA executive said. “If he was playing the DeAndre Jordan role in Brooklyn, where he’s screening and rolling the whole time and not getting post touches, would he be willing to keep his energy high on defense? Maybe a change of scenery and being put into a contending situation while on an expiring contract would motivate him to really work. A situation where there was less pressure on him to be ‘the guy’ might help.”

Ultimately, no executive with whom I spoke thought Cleveland would get back a first-round pick purely for Drummond as an asset. There are theoretically overall trade constructions that could bring back such a pick if the Cavaliers were willing to take back longer-term salary in return. But having gone through the process, it’s hard to even find those deals out there right now that teams would be willing to attach first-rounders to. If the Cavs only want expiring salaries to keep their cap sheet clean into the future, they are likely looking at a similar return to what they acquired Drummond for (just a second-round pick).

I think the most likely outcome here is that Brooklyn ends up getting Drummond on the buyout market. That was the popular consensus of the executives I talked to from a logical perspective (not necessarily from an inside info perspective). He fills a real need for the Nets as a center who can actually move his feet and provide size at the same time. He’d be an actual defensive upgrade with the minutes Jordan is currently providing, while also providing some real perimeter versatility in dribble handoffs due to his dexterity with the ball. If you can limit the role, and if he can focus for a few months, Drummond can be useful for the Nets.

Green continued, “Because when James Harden asked for a trade, and essentially dogged it, no one’s going to fight back that James was dogging it his last days in Houston, but he was castrated for wanting to go to a different team. Everybody destroyed that man. And yet a team can come out and say, ‘Oh, we want to trade a guy,’ and then that guy has to go sit, and if he doesn’t stay professional, then he’s a cancer. And he’s not good in someone’s locker room, and he’s the issue.”

While Toronto has expressed trade interest, several other teams, such as Brooklyn and Dallas, would have interest in Drummond via buyout, sources said. The Cavaliers have been in the postseason hunt in the Eastern Conference, so it is unclear how open the franchise would be toward a buyout after the trade deadline should the team be in the playoff hunt, but the franchise has certainly acknowledged Drummond’s likely desire to be on a contending team. A buyout is clearly not the preference.

Multiple sources told The Athletic that Drummond was pulled from the lineup also in part due to his “attitude and play” recently, and sources say Cavaliers coach JB Bickerstaff has had multiple sit-down conversations with the big man. Drummond has averaged 17.5 points, 13.5 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 1.6 steals and 1.2 blocks per night in 25 games this season, his ninth campaign and yet another productive one. Cleveland acquired him in a trade with the Pistons last season.

In a pre-game interview on ESPN Friday, Woj was asked by ESPN’s Maria Taylor whether there was a player on the horizon who could fill the Nets voids in defense and rebounding, Woj volunteered the name of 6’10” Cleveland center who’s the league’s leading rebounder. “There’s a natural fit out there with Andre Drummond in Cleveland,” Woj said of the 27-year-old who’s on his way to his fourth straight rebounding title. “Now, he’s the final year of his deal at $28 million and Cleveland’s future is clearly with Jarrett Allen who came from the Nets in that four-team trade. It’s difficult for Brooklyn to put the pieces together to make a trade given Drummond’s salary.

With the March 25th trade deadline less than two months away, HoopsHype spoke with eight NBA executives for their thoughts on Drummond’s trade value. Four of the executives polled felt Cleveland could get one or two second-round picks in exchange for Drummond. Last season, Cleveland gave up a 2023 second-round pick as part of the compensation to acquire Drummond. “He’s a premier rebounder,” one Eastern Conference executive told HoopsHype. “However, on the flip side, he’s an impending free agent making $28 million. Therefore, a contender needs to send out multiple players (likely dead weight) and an asset (a second-round pick or possibly two).”

Andre Drummond still the Cavs starting center

Altman received a text message from Drummond on Wednesday, with the burly center congratulating the GM on a great trade. With a relationship that goes back to when Drummond was 16 years old playing for Team USA, the two spoke again the next morning. Altman’s message: Stay locked in, keep the same enthusiasm, play like an All-Star and help Allen get acclimated. Altman also informed Drummond that his short-term role wouldn’t be changing. It’s his starting center spot. He earned it.

Andre Drummond addresses trade rumors

Instead of sulking with his successor standing on the sidelines in street clothes, Drummond gave everyone — Cleveland’s front office, Bickerstaff, the rest of the NBA — something to think about, even if he didn’t enter the night specifically looking to prove a point. “I play the same way each and every night,” Drummond said. “The trade, it is what it is. There’s nothing I can do about that. If I do get traded, I don’t control that either. I’m just here to play basketball with whatever jersey I have on. That’s all I can focus on right now.”

“The reason I’m having so much fun is I’m in a new environment, I’m in a new city and I love the guys that are here,” Drummond said. “It’s hard not to play hard here, having 12 guys that want to give it their all each and every night. It makes it fun to be out there.” Before the front office takes the next (logical) step toward unclogging the frontcourt by moving either Drummond or cheaper veteran JaVale McGee, who is also on an expiring contract and will garner interest, it’s worth considering how that would affect the team’s chances of staying competitive.

Andre Drummond a goner in Cleveland?

Multiple Eastern Conference executives believe the writing is on the wall for Drummond’s future in Cleveland after the team gave up a first-round pick to acquire Allen, who is five years younger. Drummond will become an unrestricted free agent after the season. “Drummond is definitely out of Cleveland,” one Eastern Conference executive predicted. “Cleveland wouldn’t give up a first if they didn’t want Allen long-term.”

One of the moves they could be targeting to improve their chances of doing so is swapping center Andre Drummond for Gordon Hayward with the Boston Celtics. “Something I’ve been hearing across the league the last few days is while we don’t know how the Gordon Hayward situation is going to shake out, something that could be possible is a Gordon Hayward-Andre Drummond swap,” Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated said during NBC Sports Boston’s draft special. “That’s something that a lot of league execs I’ve been talking to have discussed.”

The only problem with that notion is that on top of draft capital, the Pistons are reported as wanting 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 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.

Shams Charania on Andre Drummond: “I think there’s a pretty stagnant market for him. We’ve heard about Atlanta. I think the Knicks have thrown around a couple packages that would include maybe a young player, but there’s nothing really exciting. Detroit really has to determine if they’re going to trade Andre Drummond just to say, ‘We traded him,’ and really get back nothing that makes sense long-term or do they just keep him and ride it out into the summer? I haven’t gotten the sense that there’s a re-engaged market for Drummond at this point, but these are all fluid situations leading up to Thursday.”

The Pistons have still been trying to trade All-Star Andre Drummond but, according to a league source, the Knicks were not engaging as recently as last week. The Pistons, according to a source, are looking for a return of expiring contracts and a young prospect or draft asset. In other words, they’re ready for a rebuild. Although Drummond is an All-Star caliber player, the big issue is he’ll become an unrestricted free agent after the season and a rental doesn’t make sense this season.

Knicks not interested in Andre Drummond

Which bring us to on-the-block Pistons center Andre Drummond, the Mount Vernon, N.Y., native who, according to a Yahoo Sports report Thursday, plans to opt out of the $28 million final year of his contract this summer to become a free agent in a lackluster class. That should lessen other teams’ desire to trade for Drummond at the Feb. 6 deadline. According to an NBA source, the Knicks have no interest in a trade despite a report the Pistons approached them about a deal — and it makes absolutely no sense to give up pawns for Drummond if he’s opting out. But it will also make no sense if the Knicks don’t go after Drummond this July, even if they possess a young 7-foot-1 center they think can develop into something special.
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