The Cleveland Cavaliers were a surprise winner in the James Harden trade, coming away with Jarrett Allen. This means Andre Drummond is the odd man out.
It seemed likely that the Brooklyn Nets and Houston Rockets would need to bring in at least one more team to help facilitate their massive deal for James Harden, and the Indiana Pacers and Cleveland Cavaliers were the lucky ones to get involved.
For minimal investment themselves, the Cavs managed to get Jarrett Allen along with Taurean Prince in the deal. At this point, the Cavs are taking the mantle from the Detroit Pistons for the Team Collecting All The Centers.
While the Pistons ended up jettisoning many of their six or seven (or 10? Who even remembers) centers, the Cavaliers currently hold a nice little stockpile. Allen is added to the core of Andre Drummond and JaVale McGee, and Thon Maker had to be waived to make room for the incoming duo.
McGee’s place with the reserves is almost certainly secure, but Allen’s presence makes Drummond redundant. Both players are free agents next offseason after Allen and the Nets couldn’t come to an extension agreement, and considering his considerable talent and the investment of a first-round pick and Dante Exum, it’s safe to say that re-signing him to a fair contract will be the top priority for the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The Cavs got Drummond practically for free last trade deadline, sending the expiring salaries of John Henson and Brandon Knight (both of whom are currently out of the NBA) and a 2023 second-round pick to the Detroit Pistons in exchange. That’s not much investment on their part, and considering Allen is younger, better and fits more with what a modern NBA team needs, it’s going to be easy for the Cavs to prioritize him over Drummond.
They’re in a good position no matter what happens at this point. It would be best if they don’t lose him for nothing because he should have value to a contender in need of rebounding, rim-running and defensive presence, and capitalizing on that should be a priority if it’s possible. Ironically enough, the team that just shipped Allen to the Cavs, the Brooklyn Nets themselves, might have the most need for Drummond’s services.
So far this season, Drummond is averaging a career-high 18.0 points and an NBA-best 15.1 rebounds to go with a combined 3.1 steals and blocks in 11 games. If you strip away all the superfluous nonsense from his offensive game and encourage him to produce the ways traditional bigs can best do through cleaning up the glass and rolling to the rim, he can absolutely be productive on both ends.
Conversely, thanks to the bizarre situation in Brooklyn with DeAndre Jordan being bequeathed the starting center role because he’s friends with Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant, Allen’s numbers pale in comparison. He’s averaging 11.2 points and 10.4 rebounds per game and is quite simply superior in the things you want your center to do both offensively and defensively.
Drummond might have some trade value, but now that he’s here, Jarrett Allen is poised to be the man in the middle for the Cleveland Cavaliers.