Just when you thought the Cleveland Cavaliers were going to be sellers, bad teams usually are, they pulled off a deal, sending Brandon Knight, John Henson and a future second-round pick to the Detroit Pistons for the two-time All-Star and 26-year-old Andre Drummond.
I will admit that this trade shocked me.
Back on January 21st, I wrote about players that I felt needed to go. Brandon Knight and John Henson were both players I was hoping Cleveland could trade and get something for. I never thought that trade would be for a two-time All-Star.
Drummond is averaging 17 points, 15 rebounds, leads the league in double-doubles and ranks 10th in the NBA in blocks, averaging 1.7.
With a player option of $28.7 coming up for next season, Drummond is likely to pick up that option. This means Cleveland will likely have Andre till the end of the 2020-2021 season.
Cleveland did not trade Thompson which means he will become a free-agent and will likely sign elsewhere. I would be shocked if he resigns with Cleveland. The Cavs also have the option of doing a sign-and-trade deal for Thompson.
Even if Thompson walks, Cleveland is loaded with big men right now Drummond, Love, Thompson and Nance. They lack quality at the small forward spot.
Aside from getting a little boost offensively and especially defensively, Drummond will allow Kevin Love to move back to his natural power forward position. Love should get more open looks from three-point range now.
I bring this up for one reason. I’m sensing that Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert is going to sign Drummond to an extension. And with the likely loss of Thompson, the Cavs would still have Drummond. If not, it’s not a big deal considering what Cleveland gave up to get him.
I do see this as a move that makes the Cavs better now.
The Detroit Pistons are getting expiring contracts in John Henson and Brandon Knight. Detroit can either let them play out the rest of the season and see if they want to keep Henson and Knight around or they can waive them. Either way, The Pistons have actually put themselves in good position from a salary cap standpoint. Now that Drummond is out, they won’t have to worry about whether he wants to stay. This clears cap-space and a roster spot if you want to get down to the nitty gritty.
The Pistons still have to figure out if forward Blake Griffin is apart of their future. Griffin is under contract for two more years.
BACK TO THE CAVS
I wanted Cleveland to draft Drummond back in 2012. I thought he would be able to possibly dominate the NBA and be a top five player.
As his playing career has gone on, Drummond is the type of player that needs motivated and when he’s not, you can clearly tell. His entire game is off and he is not engaged at all.
Cleveland is hoping that a combination of a new scenery, new teammates and a chance to possibly cash in will be enough to get a more consistent All-Star version of Andre Drummond.
Keep in mind, once this season is over, Matthew Dellavedova ($9.6 million) and Tristan Thompson ($18 million) will be coming off the books.
A WIN WIN SITUATION?
I see this as a positive for both teams.
Cleveland gets a still young and quality player who can be effective on both ends of the floor. Drummond’s pick-and-roll game could help out the younger Cavaliers Darius Garland and Collin Sexton. It’s a low risk, high reward for Cleveland. If Drummond becomes an All-Star type player consistently and helps the younger Cavs grow, it will be a reward. Especially if he signs an extension long-term after that. If Drummond cannot play well enough and consistently, he’s only in Cleveland for another year.
For Detroit, as I mentioned earlier, freeing up cap-space with the departure of Drummond and likely soon, Henson and Knight. The Pistons could also look into signing a big-time free-agent if they choose or wait another year. If they trade Bake Griffin next year, it’s likely the start of a new rebuild.
WHAT ABOUT LOSING AND THE PING PONG BALLS?
This move will only give Cleveland a few more wins than expected. It’s not like Cleveland will reach anywhere near a playoff spot. The Cavs are still going to lose a lot more than win.
Losing is only good for so long. At some point, you have to start winning and building a winning culture. Just because you get a high draft pick, that guarantees you nothing. It’s about getting lucky. Many superstar players, both past and present, have been selected outside of the top five.
Credit all authors of images used in both article and as cover image : Nick Broulis