Once rivals, Drummond and Joel Embiid will now be sharing the same bench.
Drummond's last few years have illustrated the plight of traditional centers in the current NBA.
The Detroit Pistons traded him to the Cleveland Cavaliers for pennies on the dollar (Brandon Knight, John Henson and a 2023 second-round pick) in large part to avoid having to pay out his $28.7 million player option for 2020-21.
In February, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski and Brian Windhorst reported the Cavs were sitting the two-time All-Star with an eye toward shipping him out ahead of the trade deadline. No trade materialized, and Cleveland had to absorb almost all of his salary to buy him. He subsequently signed with the Los Angeles Lakers.
Drummond remains a productive center. He averaged 17.5 points and 13.5 rebounds in 25 games with the Cavaliers before putting up 11.9 points and 10.2 boards in 21 appearances with the Lakers. Between the two stops, he also shot 49.3 percent and averaged 1.1 blocks.
Unfortunately for the 27-year-old, the biggest limitations in his game remained.
Drummond took only eight three-pointers last season and missed them all. According to NBA.com, 517 of his 552 field-goal attempts came within 10 feet of the basket.
Despite his 6'10", 279-pound frame, he isn't a dominant defender, either. Opposing players shot 51.7 percent from the field when matched up against him, per NBA.com.
Whereas some centers have successfully adapted their games to fit with the strategic trends, Drummond seems incapable of doing so.
Sports Illustrated's Chris Herring also examined how his rebounding, one of his best skills, doesn't translate to much success. Teams are focusing more on getting players back on defense rather than crashing the glass. In addition, bigger centers are finding fewer rebound opportunities with a higher volume of three-pointers going up:
"And even when clubs do vie for offensive rebounds, because of the longer shots they're taking, the misfires are likelier to bounce toward the perimeter than in previous eras. It means rebounders need more range. 'Maybe 10 or 12 years ago, you'd only see a few types of guys going for [offensive boards]. Now, you see perimeter guys with that freedom,' says Steve Clifford, who coaches the Magic. 'With all the long rebounds now, there's a larger area defensively you have to track in order to finish possessions.'"
Philadelphia 76ers head coach Doc Rivers, who played from 1983-96, told Herring that Drummond "would have fit right in with that generation of play," implying how he has become outmoded to some extent.
The Utah Jazz handed Rudy Gobert a five-year, $205 million extension despite him skewing toward a more traditional center mold. Unlike Drummond, though, the Frenchman is an elite defensive player who thrives in the pick and roll.
All of that is to say Drummond was inevitably going to see his next contract fall precipitously from the five-year max deal he got from the Pistons. And that's before factoring in the continued financial impact from the COVID-19 pandemic.
To some extent, his previous contract may have swung the discourse about his game so far in one direction that it obscured how he can help a team. While the 2012 first-round pick isn't a top-tier center, he isn't utterly devoid of value.
That Drummond is going to Philadelphia, where he'll presumably back up Embiid, is a sign of how far his stock has fallen.