Potential Trade Packages and Landing Spots for Pistons Star Andre Drummond
Andre Drummond has been a franchise centerpiece of the Detroit Pistons for nearly a decade.
He was selected with the ninth overall pick in 2012. He's third in franchise history in rebounds and third in blocks. But in his seven full seasons, the Pistons have made the playoffs only twice. And with his contract carrying a player option for the 2020-21 season, there was speculation he may enter free agency this summer.
Detroit could be looking to get out ahead of that. News broke Friday that the team might explore the trade market in an attempt to recoup some value for the 2015-16 third-team All-NBA big man rather than let him walk for nothing.
"The Detroit Pistons are escalating discussions with several teams about a trade involving All-Star center Andre Drummond, including serious recent talks with the Atlanta Hawks," ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski wrote, noting a package from the Hawks would include expiring contracts and draft capital.
Shortly after Wojnarowski's report broke, Yahoo Sports' Vincent Goodwill added the Boston Celtics, Dallas Mavericks and Toronto Raptors to the list of potential suitors, writing that those teams "have also registered interest in Andre Drummond."
That's at least four possible landing spots. Are there any other teams that make sense for an old-school center averaging 17.6 points and 15.8 rebounds per game?
The Deal: Chandler Parsons and a first-round pick for Drummond
With the market for centers (especially more traditional centers) somewhat suppressed, it's not easy to find teams that are natural fits.
Atlanta just might be.
"Andre Drummond is such an intriguing target for the Hawks," The Ringer's Kevin O'Connor wrote. "He's never played with a passer as good as Trae Young or on a team that runs as much pick-and-roll as Atlanta. Drummond has scored 1.2 points per roll to the rim in his career. Young could create easier chances than ever."
Young's vision is off the charts, especially for a player his age (21). And if he's coming off ball screens for Drummond, he'd command the attention of both pick-and-roll defenders. And that'd be true all the way out to 30 feet from the rim.
That means plenty of open space for Drummond to roll to the rim. And that, in turn, should lead to loads of open dunks. The pressure Drummond puts on the space around the rim may pull defenders off the wings too.
There may be some concern that a lot of this is what John Collins is already providing. Would he and Drummond step on each other's toes in the paint?
That's a reasonable concern, but Collins has the range and potential to spend more time working from the perimeter. And Drummond's partnership with Blake Griffin shows he can coexist with another big.
Now, Wojnarowski also reported a deal between these teams "would include other assets." You won't find those in the framework here. As detailed above, Drummond can enter free agency this summer. Atlanta can exercise a bit of leverage and tell Detroit it'll just wait to sign him outright.
There's always some risk in that. The Los Angeles Lakers missed their shot at Paul George when he re-signed with the Oklahoma City Thunder. But the Hawks shouldn't feel pressured to include a bunch of assets for a player they'd have a shot at in free agency.
After the defending champion Raptors lost Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green this summer, expectations were understandably lowered.
That and the spate of injuries they've suffered this season should have buried them. But they're 23-12 and fourth in the Eastern Conference.
That makes it tough to understand why they'd break it up.
But Drummond is eight years younger than Marc Gasol. And while he's clearly not the passer Gasol is, he's shown some chops in that area over recent years.
Prior to Griffin's acquisition in the 2017-18 season, Drummond was averaging 3.9 assists per game. That's more than Gasol has averaged as a Raptor.
On defense, Drummond may not be quite as heady as Gasol, but he's still young and would have time to grow on that end under the tutelage of Nick Nurse.
Plus, his all-time-great-level rebounding would help shore up one of Toronto's weaknesses: The Raptors are 27th in defensive rebounding percentage.
For Detroit, Gasol would be a straight-up expiring contract. So, there would be some flexibility there. And if the Pistons can get one pick out of the deal, that'd be better than losing Drummond for nothing.
The Deal: Gordon Hayward and Semi Ojeleye for Drummond and Tony Snell
This landing spot makes almost no sense. You can't concoct a deal for Drummond that doesn't include Gordon Hayward, Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown or Marcus Smart.
The only way it might feel OK to move Hayward for Drummond is if Boston already caught some whiff that he was set to turn down his player option and enter free agency himself.
Wings are in higher demand, and Brown and Tatum are loaded with potential. Smart is the heart and soul of the team, and his salary isn't close to Drummond's.
A deal of Hayward and Semi Ojeleye for Drummond and Tony Snell would work under the collective bargaining agreement. And Snell would at least preserve some of his ability to play positionless defense. But it's hard to see how that team would be better than the one already playing. And this framework would be a head-scratcher for Detroit too.
If the Pistons are going to kick off a rebuild, they need cap flexibility and draft capital. Hayward's too good for the Celtics to attach a pick. And he'd do pretty much the same thing to Detroit's cap sheet that Drummond does.
Maybe this is just a case of Danny Ainge continuing to posture and suggest that his team is involved in loads of potential deals. It's tough to otherwise uncover a reasonable explanation for the idea of breaking up a team that's second in the league in net points per 100 possessions and already fits together seamlessly.
The Deal: Tim Hardaway Jr., Dwight Powell and a second-round pick for Drummond
The Mavericks' interest is another one that's tough to figure out.
Not only do they have this season's best offense, but they're also on pace to score the most points per 100 possessions in league history.
They don't have major problems on defense or the boards, either (presumably the two areas in which Drummond would help).
Why try to shake that up?
Well, I suppose we can talk ourselves into Drummond raising the raw talent quotient on the roster. He puts up huge numbers, and Luka Doncic would create all kinds of easy looks for him. Rim rollers have always been a key component of Rick Carlisle's offenses. And he could maybe convince Drummond to ditch some post-ups for those more efficient looks.
A trade built around Tim Hardaway Jr. (necessary for salary-matching purposes), Dwight Powell (or Maxi Kleber) and a pick would satisfy league rules.
But how much would that do for Dallas?
The Mavs are plus-17.7 points per 100 possessions when Hardaway and Powell are on the floor with Doncic. That mark ranks in the 99th percentile, according to Cleaning the Glass. Swap Powell for Kleber, and those figures drop all the way to...14.6 points and the 98th percentile.
The supporting cast already fits its star almost perfectly. Drummond wouldn't move the needle enough to justify surrendering assets, losing Hardaway's floor-spacing and giving up all Dallas has already invested in the development of Powell and Kleber.
Los Angeles Clippers
The Deal: Ivica Zubac, Maurice Harkless, Jerome Robinson, Mfiondu Kabengele and a second-round pick for Drummond
They haven't surfaced as a team interested in Drummond, but the already all-in Los Angeles Clippers could throw their imaginary car keys on top of the chips they already pushed in for PG. And they can piece together an interesting offer.
Ivica Zubac is just 22 years old and posting stellar pace- and playing time-adjusted numbers. Jerome Robinson and Mfiondu Kabengele are essentially still question marks. Maurice Harkless would be mostly salary-matching fodder.
It'd be tough to draw a first-round pick out of L.A. because of the haul it already sent to OKC for George, but this package includes a lot of young talent. Three of the four players heading to Detroit are 22. The other, Harkless, is 26.
For the Clippers, this move would hurt their depth, but they'd still hang on to the most important pieces of this season's title chase.
The new starting lineup could be Kawhi, PG, Drummond, Patrick Beverley and Landry Shamet. And they'd still have Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell coming off the bench.
That'd be a devastating playoff rotation.