According to Detroit Pistons rumors from multiple sources, the club is looking at the possibility of moving Andre Drummond before the trade deadline.
Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reported Friday there were several teams in discussions with Detroit about a deal for Drummond, who is expected to decline his $28.57 million option for next season to jump into what could be a less-than-stellar free agent class in July.
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One team reportedly particularly interested is the Atlanta Hawks, who are said to be considering a package that includes the lottery-protected 2020 first-round pick from the Brooklyn Nets and expiring contracts for the Pistons in exchange for bringing in Drummond to team with young stars Trae Young and John Collins.
Detroit could use some cap relief. According to Jeff Siegel of Early Bird Rights, the Pistons are on the hook for $36.81 million next season for a 31-year-old Blake Griffin, who has in only half of the team’s 36 games this season after sitting out Saturday’s matchup with the Golden State Warriors in San Francisco.
Griffin then has a $38.96 player option for 2021-22, his age-32 season. Detroit also has Tony Snell on the books for a $12.18 million player option next season, while Markieff Morris‘ player option for 2020-21 is a more frugal $3.36 million.
Drummond said before the season, per Vince Ellis and Chris Thomas of the Detroit Free Press, that he is worthy of a max deal.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re a basketball player. With the work you put in, you should be rewarded for it — no matter who you are. If it’s me or even a rookie. Everybody feels like they should make a maximum amount of dollars.”
The Pistons reportedly countered Drummond’s query about an extension last summer with an offer that was not particularly close to the $34.5 million first-year salary a max deal would command.
Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports reported there was interest from the Boston Celtics, Dallas Mavericks and Toronto Raptors for Drummond, who reportedly has relationships with both Dallas star Kristaps Porzingis and Toronto point guard Kyle Lowry.
However, at least one reporter — Brad Townsend of the Dallas Morning News — questioned whether the Mavericks would be involved in any discussions for Drummond.
The Free Press reported it has spoken with multiple NBA executives over the last year and there is none who believed Drummond to be a max-level player. Drummond’s game is built on rebounding and low-post play, with some skill in pick-and-roll defense thrown in.
That makes him something of an anachronism in the modern NBA, where teams are looking for centers who can do more than the big men of yesteryear, particularly being able to step out to the 3-point line and stretch a defense.
Drummond has experimented with adding a deep ball to his repertoire over the last few seasons, with results that were … less than spectacular. Of his 86 career attempts from 3-point range, 67 have come since the start of the 2017-18 season and he’s connected on just five of them, a not-exactly-Curryesque 7.5 percent.
He’s 0-for-18 from the great beyond this season.
What Drummond does excel at is rebounding. He has led the league in total rebounds in each of the last four seasons and is doing so again in 2019-20, while he has three rebounding titles for the best per-game average in the last four seasons and his 15.8 rebounds a night once again leads the NBA by a significant margin (Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz is second at 14.2 per game).
Besides the three (or four, if Dallas is still to be considered a candidate) teams mentioned earlier, Sean Devaney of Heavy.com reported in November the Charlotte Hornets had interest in Drummond, as well. The Hornets have roughly $45 million coming off the books at the end of the season in the expiring deals of Bismack Biyombo, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Marvin Williams.
That could put Charlotte in a position to make a serious run at Drummond, who would be an overall upgrade over incumbent Cody Zeller, even if his playing style doesn’t exactly fit the modern pace-and-space mold.
The Pistons have been very disappointing after making the playoffs last season, with a 13-23 record after Saturday night’s win at Golden State. Detroit currently trails the eighth-place Orlando Magic in the Eastern Conference standings by three games. The Pistons are tied with the Chicago Bulls, with Charlotte Hornets a game in front of them.