The Andre Drummond saga has come to an end with the Detroit Pistons. On Thursday afternoon, about half an hour before the trade deadline, Drummond was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski was first to break the news on Twitter:
The return won’t blow you away, but it’s better than the pure expiring contracts the Pistons were rumored to be getting offered in the run-up to the deadline. They’ll get back John Henson, former Piston Brandon Knight and a second round pick in the form of the lesser of the Cavs’ or Golden State Warriors’ 2023 selection.
One of the driving forces behind the urgency to move on from Drummond was his upcoming $28.75 million player option in the summer. With 2020 cap space being swallowed up in droves over the past few days, it became more obvious by the hour that Drummond would pick up that option rather than becoming a free agent.
The Pistons wanted cap space for the coming summer, and that’s exactly what they got. They will enter next summer with nearly $40 million in space. The free agent class for 2020-21 is a weak one, but that space will give them options and flexibility they haven’t had in years.
Drummond is the NBA’s leading rebounder, as he is just about every year. His defense could be high-level but was inconsistent, and his offensive game improved by the year but was still not reliably efficient.
He has also never had a point guard better than Reggie Jackson in his entire career, and Jackson’s peak was a one-season run in 2015-16. He’s never had help from perimeter defenders and has at times been forced to be a one-man army on both offense and defense.
Sometimes he appears to be frustrated and disengaged in the face of this situation, but be honest, so would you.
Drummond will move to a Cavaliers squad where the fit will be odd alongside Tristan Thompson and Kevin Love (assuming no further moves or buy outs), but the Cavs are long past the point of trying to win games this season so it really won’t matter that much for the rest of 2019-20. He’ll have the chance to play alongside some talented guards in Collin Sexton and Darius Garland, and Sexton shows flashes of being a solid perimeter defender in the making as well.
It’s probably not the situation he expected he’d find himself in when the trade rumors surfaced, but it’s also perhaps not the worst situation for him to land in.
As things currently stand, the Pistons will have only Blake Griffin, Tony Snell (who will surely opt into his $12 million salary for 2020-21), Derrick Rose, Luke Kennard, Sekou Doumbouya, Markieff Morris (if he opts into his $3.36 million for 2020-21) and the non-guaranteed contracts of Khyri Thomas, Bruce Brown and Svi Mhykailiuk.
They will have Knight, Henson, Jackson, Thon Maker, Langston Galloway, Christian Wood and Tim Frazier all coming off the books. It will be the closest thing the Detroit Pistons have had to a blank slate in years.
With Drummond on his way to Cleveland, the shackles may finally come off for Christian Wood. Coming off a game on Wednesday against the Phoenix Suns in which he played a career-high 32 minutes, that may become the norm rather than the exception for the rest of the season.