Trade rumors: Cleveland Cavaliers could have interest in Detroit Pistons Andre Drummond

Detroit Pistons Andre Drummond and Cleveland Cavaliers Kevin Love. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
Detroit Pistons Andre Drummond and Cleveland Cavaliers Kevin Love. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images) /

In ESPN’s trade deadline special, Bobby Marks reports the Cleveland Cavaliers could have interest in Detroit Pistons Andre Drummond in a trade.

Andre Drummond is available on the trade market and the Detroit Pistons have no shortage of suitors, and a new team can be added to the mix with five previous known teams.

The division-rival Cleveland Cavaliers could have interest in Drummond. ESPN’s Bobby Marks reported the Cavs are having discussions within their front office on the “cost to get into the Andre Drummond sweepstakes.”

But the Cavaliers have a dilemma of their own on their hands in trying to find a suitable partner for disgruntled star Kevin Love. The five-time All-Star has had a bumpy few weeks with general manager Koby Altman.

Love has played in 30 games this season, surpassing the 22 he played in an injury-hampered season last season. He’s averaging 16.4 points and 10.3 rebounds per game this season and has an 18.0 Player Efficiency Rating.

Love is owed $91.5 million over the next three seasons through 2022-23. Given the Pistons have their own dilemma with Blake Griffin, who is likely unmovable since he’s owed $36.6 million next season and has a player option for the 2021-22 season worth $38.96 million. He’s also had his history of injuries and is considering season-ending knee surgery.

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Detroit is 13-24 and sits four games behind the Brooklyn Nets, who have lost six straight, for the eighth spot in the East. But Detroit is 9-18 against Eastern Conference teams and plays its next two games against the Cavaliers (10-26). The Pistons are also tied for the seventh-worst record in the league.

Cleveland has a plethora of expiring contracts that could make matching Drummond’s $27.9 million expiring contract. He also has a $28.8 million player option for the 2020-21 season, though he’s stated his intentions of opting for free agency. That makes obtaining his bird rights to offer an extra year on his contract and additional salary important.

It’s also why teams like the Hornets and Hawks are interested, despite not being in contention. Contending teams like the Mavericks, Raptors and Celtics are interested. Each can offer something valuable to Detroit, and makes the Cavs an interesting team to trade with.

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If the Cavaliers want to get in, they’ll have to offer more than expiring contracts, which could include Tristan Thompson. He’s 28 and having the best season of his career, averaging 12.4 points and 10.3 rebounds per game.

Other expiring contracts could include Brandon Knight ($15.6 million), John Henson ($9.7 million) and Matthew Dellavedova ($9.6 million). Knight, who was selected eighth overall by the Pistons in the 2011 NBA Draft, could reunite in Detroit. He played 141 games in Detroit, starting 135, and averaged 13.1 points, 3.9 assists and 3.2 rebounds per game. This season, however, he’s only played in 11 games and is averaging 12.5 minutes per contest.

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That’s due to the young point guards in Collin Sexton and Darius Garland. Sexton was selected eighth overall in the 2018 NBA Draft by Cleveland. The 21-year-old guard has played in all 118 games of his career and is averaging 17.3 points, 3 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game with shooting splits of .438/.372/.836.

Garland, who turns 20 on Jan. 26, hast started all 36 games this season and is averaging 11.7 points, 3.2 assists and 2 rebounds per game with shooting splits of .401/.369/.848. He was selected fifth overall by the Cavaliers in the 2019 NBA Draft.

Having taken point guards in back-to-back drafts, Cleveland may be willing to part with one of them to lure the game’s best rebounder and a strong pick-and-roll presence. But it’s hard to see which guard Cleveland would choose, though they may lean for the younger Garland. But trading Drummond would signal intentions to re-sign him as part of a push to contend.

Cleveland has plenty of draft capitol but don’t own its 2020 first-round pick (unless they are in the top 10), so the Cavs can’t trade their 2021 pick, unless they get their pick back. Cleveland also has Milwaukee’s 2022 first round pick and three second-round picks in 2022.

There are a couple of different routes the Cavs could go that could entice the Pistons.

This would give Detroit financial flexibility to spend on a restricted free agent, such as Toronto Raptors point guard Fred VanVleet. The Pistons reportedly have interest in signing him this summer and would be able to afford upwards of $20 million per year.

Given they’d be acquiring Sexton, Detroit could sign him, develop Sexton off the bench and trade Derrick Rose, who will be owed $7.5 million next season. There’s surely a market for him given he’s having his best season since 2010-11.

The only true payoff from this deal is the Pistons would likely lose more games by subtracting Drummond from their roster. The 2022 first round pick may not even be that enticing, depending on how the Cavs transform their roster over the next few years.

It’s ultimately a tough spot for Cleveland to be in. If they want to win the Drummond bidding war, Sexton or Garland may have to be involved, or the trade could expand to a three-team deal.

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Regardless, the Pistons have under a month to find a trade for Drummond to not risk losing him for nothing in free agency.