As Reggie Jackson enters the final year of his contract, could an Andre Drummond-for-D’Angelo Russell swap be the Detroit Pistons point guard answer?
The Golden State Warriors stunned the basketball world when they executed a sign-and-trade with the Brooklyn Nets to acquire the 23-year-old All-Star point guard D’Angelo Russell on June 30. The move was finalized just hours after Kevin Durant announced his decision to sign with the Nets.
For a team lacking cap space and reeling from just losing one of the league’s top talents, Golden State’s pragmatism during free agency allowed them to net a solid consolation prize. In his fourth season in the NBA, Russell, averaged 21.1 points, 3.9 rebounds, 7 assists, and 1.2 steals per game while shooting 43.4 percent from the field and 36.9 percent from three. He was instrumental throughout the Nets’ surprising season, exhibiting a newfound maturity and poise that helped make him an effective leader while also further honing his skills on the court.
While many are still skeptical of the young guard given his lack of experience, Russell has certainly shown that he has a high ceiling and the potential to develop into a perennial All-Star.
Others, however, are much more skeptical of his future as a Warrior.
Golden State has shown no sign of breaking up its iconic backcourt duo, the “Splash Bros,” as evidenced by the massive 5 year, $189.9 million contract that Klay Thompson inked this off season. There will be a need for Russell’s services in the interim, as Thompson recovers from a torn ACL he suffered in Game 6 of the 2019 NBA Finals, but once he returns, Russell may find himself on the move.
The Detroit Pistons could be in a perfect position to land Russell.
Not only will Detroit be in the market for a point guard if they decide against re-signing Reggie Jackson, but the Pistons currently possess an asset in Andre Drummond that would fill a position of need for the Warriors.
As I discussed in a previous article, at first glance, a Drummond-Russell trade could make sense for both sides. Detroit is able to acquire an All-Star level point guard who fits the timeline of the rest of the team’s young core, while Golden State finds itself with an All-Star caliber center, a position of weakness for the Warriors.
Furthermore, this is a rare scenario in which a trade of this prominence could be a clean swap. Salaries match. Talent and age are similar. Positions of need are filled. At the very least, neither team would have to worry about shelling out assets to get their man.
Under certain conditions, this trade could be a real possibility. Should Drummond communicate his desire to leave in free agency, Detroit would become eager to facilitate a deal. Additionally, if there is mutual interest between Drummond and Golden State, Detroit could work out a sign-and-trade at season’s end to ensure Drummond wouldn’t merely be a rental for Golden State (which would be a risk if he’s traded before the trade deadline).
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By acquiring Drummond, Golden State could remain competitive in the West with their core of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green. Insert Drummond, who averaged 17.3 points, 15.6 rebounds, 1.7 steals and 1.7 blocks per game last season, and suddenly the Warriors become a team that can do legitimate damage in the Western Conference.
For Detroit, trading for Russell would mark a clear commitment to its long-term plans. The Pistons have quietly assembled an exciting young core that, with time, could develop into something special. At 23, Russell fits in perfectly with this timeline and would be able to re-assume the leadership role of a young core.
Russell would likewise be able to play next to a bona fide star in Blake Griffin, whose gravitational pull-like presence on the court would open up better looks on the offensive end.
It remains to be seen whether Detroit will be interested in re-signing Drummond or trading him away. If the Pistons’ front office chooses the latter, Golden State could end up being a near-perfect trade partner.