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NBA Free Agency 2020: Rumors and Predictions for Andre Drummond, More

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistOctober 26, 2020

FILE - In this Feb. 12, 2020, file photo, Cleveland Cavaliers' Andre Drummond plays against the Atlanta Hawks in the first half of an NBA basketball gamein Cleveland. General manager Koby Altman wasn't necessarily in the market for another front court player, not with Tristan Thompson, Kevin Love and Larry Nance Jr. already on the roster. But he said the chance to add a player of Drummond's caliber, a versatile, rebounding machine and proven veteran who will make the Cavs' younger players better immediately and perhaps in the future, was too enticing.(AP Photo/Tony Dejak, File)
Tony Dejak/Associated Press

The Walt Disney World Resort bubble magic is over, the Los Angeles Lakers are champions and there remains some uncertainty about just how long the upcoming offseason will be in the NBA.

That has done nothing to quell rumors from around the league, as teams turn their attention toward free agency and improving for the 2020-21 campaign.

With that in mind, here is a look at some of the latest NBA rumors and accompanying predictions for a handful of players.

               

Derrick Jones Jr. Drawing Multiple Suitors

Derrick Jones Jr., who is an unrestricted free agent this offseason, appeared to be a key part of the Miami Heat's future when he was a regular contributor during the 2019-20 campaign.

He averaged 8.5 points, 3.9 rebounds and 1.0 steals in 23.3 minutes per game during the regular season but suddenly was essentially a nonfactor in the playoffs as Miami made the NBA Finals. The wing played just 6.5 minutes per night in the postseason and an average of 2.3 minutes in the three Finals games he saw the court.

That left some questions about his future, and Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald reported the Detroit Pistons, Chicago Bulls and Atlanta Hawks are expected to pursue Jones during the offseason.

Jackson also suggested a return to the Heat "assuredly would be only on a one-year deal, and likely only after Miami explored other options with its mid-level exception."

The report pointed to a number of reasons for the dropoff in playing time during the postseason, including the fact that head coach Erik Spoelstra's reliance on veterans Andre Iguodala and Jae Crowder cut into Jones' minutes.

Jones also wasn't fully healthy following a scary fall during the seeding-game finale and after he sprained an ankle in the first round of the playoffs.

Given that reality, it will not be difficult for other teams to overlook his lack of postseason playing time and even his career three-point shooting percentage of 28.2 for a 23-year-old wing who is athletic enough to attack the basket and serve in the role of defensive stopper.

Opponents shot 4.8 percent worse from the field and 6.3 percent worse from three-point range than their normal averages when Jones guarded them in 2019-20, per NBA.com.

The thought here is the Heat will focus on bringing back Crowder and Goran Dragic before Jones in the offseason, leaving other teams as more likely destinations. Look for the Bulls, who are attempting to build a long-term contender with new head coach Billy Donovan and new executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas, to aggressively pursue him.

Jones is someone who could fit in as a defensive stopper on the wing alongside Zach LaVine, who is more known for his offense.

He is also young enough to be part of a rebuild that lasts for multiple seasons.

Prediction: Bulls add Jones with their mid-level exception.

               

Andre Drummond's Long-Term Cleveland Future in Doubt

Big man Andre Drummond has a player option worth more than $28.7 million for 2020-21, and chances are he will exercise it and remain with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com suggested "the real question is what happens after" while pointing out the two sides "have been far apart" in early discussions about a long-term contract extension.

"The Cavs recognize Drummond's talent, but they are also honest about his flaws, especially in this pace-and-space era, where bigs like him are easy to attain," he wrote.

It is easy to point to Drummond's flaws in today's game. Opponents can exploit him in small-ball mismatches with pick-and-rolls and a spread-out attack. What's more, his career free-throw percentage of 46.1 makes it difficult to keep him on the floor in crunch time.

There is still plenty to like, though, including the fact that he is a walking double-double at just 27 years old. He averaged 17.7 points, 15.2 rebounds, 1.9 steals and 1.6 blocks per game last season on the Cavaliers and Pistons and can protect the rim, dominate the boards and finish in the lane.

Drummond is a two-time All-Star and four-time rebounding champion who has already built an impressive resume.

Given the sheer amount of money it is worth and the uncertainty surrounding the league's financial picture in the immediate future after the COVID-19 pandemic took away fans for the finishing kick and playoffs of the 2019-20 campaign, the UConn product will surely exercise his player option.

However, look for the Cavaliers to hold off on any long-term extensions and trade Drummond at the deadline to a contender searching for frontcourt help. Such a move would allow them to garner assets to facilitate the rebuild around Darius Garland, Collin Sexton and whoever they take with the No. 5 pick in the 2020 draft.

Prediction: Drummond exercises player option but is eventually traded by the Cavaliers.

                 

Pacers Looking to Keep Justin Holiday

It is a new era for the Indiana Pacers after they hired Nate Bjorkgren as head coach, but they are reportedly looking to keep a key part of their 2019-20 rotation in place.

According to J. Michael of the Indianapolis Star, the Pacers "made it clear to Justin Holiday they want the free agent back" and have recently communicated with him.

"It's expected to be a 'strong market' for Holiday, but the Pacers will have the first shot at securing his services. He passed on a more lucrative deal from the Chicago Bulls, who'd traded him twice already, in search of a better basketball culture and stability," Michael wrote.

Holiday is a journeyman who has played for the Philadelphia 76ers, Golden State Warriors, Atlanta Hawks, Bulls, New York Knicks and Memphis Grizzlies in addition to the Pacers throughout his career.

The 31-year-old averaged 8.3 points, 3.3 rebounds and 1.2 steals per game while shooting 40.5 percent from deep during the 2019-20 campaign for Indiana and is a 6'6" wing with athleticism and length to bother outside shooters and keep up with ball-handlers.

As a result, opponents shot 4.2 percent worse from the field and 4.9 percent worse from three-point range than their normal averages when he defended them last season, per NBA.com.

Given Holiday's apparent feelings about the Pacers' culture, the fact that he carved out a significant role on the team and talks are already in place, look for him to stay put.

Prediction: Holiday re-signs with Pacers.

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