Could an Andre Drummond-for-D’Angelo Russell trade be back in play?

The Detroit Pistons and Golden State Warriors are having disappointing seasons. Could Andre Drummond be traded for D’Angelo Russell still?

Both the Detroit Pistons and Golden State Warriors have had disappointing seasons marked by a flurry of injuries. All-NBA selections Stephen Curry and Blake Griffin, who had his second knee surgery in eight months, have missed significant time but Curry is expected to come back.

Could the Pistons and Warriors strike a deal sending Andre Drummond to the Bay Area and D’Angelo Russell to the Motor City? It seemed unlikely when Curry suffered his injury two months ago but with his return coming in March, the Warriors may look to make a move for next season. Since the Warriors acquired Russell in a sign-and-trade for Kevin Durant, the 23-year-old guard has been implicated in trade rumors.

Golden State just traded Willie Cauley-Stein to the Mavericks, leaving the Warriors thin in the frontcourt. A deal before the deadline would make sense for a variety of reasons, and filling out the frontcourt is one of them.

The Pistons (17-30) sit three games behind a playoff spot and have the most difficult schedule in March. Only Derrick Rose is under contract for next season at the point guard position. They could get their point guard of the future by dealing Drummond.

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The Warriors (10-37) have the NBA’s worst record by a game and a half. They’re bound to win games when Curry returns, simply because he’s that good. Keeping Russell to play alongside him increases those odds, as would trading for Drummond. But Golden State is still trending towards a top 5 pick.

That pick will be used to reload with Klay Thompson expected to be at full strength for the 2020-21 season. Adding Drummond to the fold would give them an opportunity to re-sign him while going over the salary cap because they would own his original contract.

Golden State made its championship runs with JaVale McGee (2017 and 2018) and Andrew Bogut (2015) as its centers. Both are strong pick-and-roll options and Bogut, especially, was a good passer. Drummond could add an element they couldn’t with his passing through traffic and as the best rebounder of the game.

Steve Kerr would be able to keep Drummond around the rim to run for offensive rebounds while dropping the other four players back in transition. He’s led the league in offensive rebounds since taking over as starting center in 2013-14. He’s led the league in total rebounds over the last four seasons

It’s something both teams could have mutual interest in. Curry is targeting a return on March 1, which would give them time to incorporate Drummond and find a rhythm heading into the offseason.

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Though the Pistons have been fielding calls for Drummond, nothing has materialized. The drawback seems to be no interest from teams to include a first round pick with the expiring contracts. But the Pistons and Warriors are in an interesting disposition due to roster construction.

A straight-up Drummond-for-Russell trade would get it done financially. The Pistons could add to a potential deal, but adding a potential stop-gap until Curry gets back, such as Reggie Jackson or Rose is complicated by the lack of sizable contracts the Warriors would need to match.

Both teams could engage a third team so the Warriors could offload some of their contracts to include Rose, who is under contract for $7.5 million next season. Given that Drummond’s market value has dwindled to expiring contracts, at least in the eyes of other teams, a possibility is he stays in Detroit.

That would open an avenue for the two sides to explore a sign-and-trade, similar to what the Warriors used to get Russell last season. The Warriors will be unable to sign a free agent of Drummond’s caliber next season and Russell would be an upgrade unattainable for a Pistons team that will have salary cap space.

It seems unlikely that a trade gets done before the Feb. 6 trade deadline, but if the Pistons don’t move Drummond a sign-and-trade becomes an interesting avenue for a Warriors team that will need frontcourt depth to compete with the Lakers and Clippers, among others, next season. Drummond may be the best candidate for that postseason stretch, especially alongside Draymond Green.

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