Could Andre Drummond take a hometown discount to stay with Pistons?

Detroit Pistons Andre Drummond. (Photo by Chris Schwegler/NBAE via Getty Images)
Detroit Pistons Andre Drummond. (Photo by Chris Schwegler/NBAE via Getty Images) /

Andre Drummond matured and has grown to love the Motor City. Would it be enough to take a discount in free agency to stay with the Detroit Pistons?

Andre Drummond has grown to love the city of Detroit, embraced its culture and expressed a desire to stay amidst trade rumors.

He emphasized his desire to stay in the Motor City to ESPN’s Eric Woodyard. But Drummond may not be in the Pistons’ future plans as they have been actively trying to trade the 26-year-old.

The Pistons seek a first round pick in exchange for the league’s best rebounder and defensive menace. Teams are hesitant to trade for Drummond, whose contract is set to expire. He does have a player option worth $28.8 million in 2020-21, though he’s said he intends to opt for free agency instead.

Drummond is chasing a third straight rebounding title, currently leading the league with 15.6 per game. He’s on pace to lead the league in total rebounds for a fifth straight year, and he’s led in offensive rebounds each season since becoming a starter in 2013-14.

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Remarkably, he’s taken strides to improve defensively. He’s led the league in defensive win shares each of the last two years and is on pace to do it again, and he has a career defensive rating of 100.

This season has been no exception. He’s second in steals per game (2.1) and 11th in blocks per game (1.8) entering Wednesday’s game against the Nets. He’s clearly motivated to continue improving, wanting to win Defensive Player of the Year as inspired by Sada Baby.

"“Listen, Dre Drummond, you’re already the best offensive rebounder in the game, this year I need you to go out there and get that Defensive Player of the Year,” Sada Baby told ESPN.“You’ve got the capabilities to do it, you’re the most athletic center I’ve seen when it comes to attacking the boards. But, I need you to get that DPOY and take us back to the playoffs and get that first playoff win we’ve had in dang near 10 years.”"

But with the Pistons 3.5 games behind the Nets for the eighth seed and the most difficult March in the NBA ahead, the odds aren’t in Drummond’s favor. Though his defensive improvements, even categorically, aren’t to be taken for granted.

Ranking the best trade destinations for Drummond. light. opinion

Drummond has exemplified a love for Detroit through work with local charities and not-for-profits, as Woodyard addresses. The milestone moment was when he wore Buffs, a Detroit-based style of sunglasses. It led to Branden Hunter, then with the Michigan Chronicle and currently the Detroit Free Press, to give Drummond the nickname “7 Mile Dre” at the start of the 2017 season.

It’s a fitting nickname for Drummond — or Drummxnd, his rap stage name. The center had fully embraced the city of Detroit, taking on the “Detroit vs. Everybody” mentality that Tommey Walker, the clothing brand designer, said can’t be lukewarm.

"“Pretty much Detroit vs. Everybody means you can’t be lukewarm with us,” he told Woodyard. “You’re either in or you’re out.”"

The NBA is becoming more perimeter-centric. Teams like to play a five-out style or a four-out, one-in, which Drummond fits in. He’s valuable in the pick-and-roll game but is limited to finishing around the basket. He did have strong assist numbers playing in a dribble-handoff offense under Stan Van Gundy, averaging a career-best 3.0 assists per game in 2017-18 and earning his second All-Star appearance.

Dwane Casey has made his offense work with centers who only operate inside. It wasn’t until the 2017-18 season when Jonas Valanciunas developed a 3-point shot that Casey had a versatile center. Though the Raptors won a franchise-record 59 games.

opinion. 3 reasons why the Pistons should trade Drummond. light

The fit could work without Drummond finishing a perimeter shot. It might have to. Drummond shared Instagram videos of himself working on his 3-point shot during the summer but he’s 1 for 21 this season. That may be enough for the Pistons to move off of Drummond.

Before deciding if a hometown discount is in play, if the Pistons were interested, let’s take a look at comparable players and their most recent contracts. This could be best in determining Drummond’s value on the open market.

Currently in the NBA, Drummond’s average annual value is the seventh-largest in the league at $25.4 million per year, according to Spotrac. He doesn’t compare to three of the top four — Karl-Anthony Towns, Joel Embiid and Nikola Jokic — but let’s take a look at comparable players and their recent contracts.

Clint Capela was a restricted free agent, entering his age-24 season, when the Houston Rockets signed him to a five-year, $90 million extension. The average annual value is worth $18 million, which is below a potential Drummond contract. In the season before signing that deal, Capela averaged 24.8 points, 19.4 rebounds, 3.3 blocks and 1.4 steals per 100 possessions.

Rudy Gobert was centering his age-25 season when he signed a four-year, $102 million contract. His average annual value is worth $25.5 million. The season prior he averaged 21.7 points, 19.8 rebounds, 4.1 blocks and 0.9 steals per game. Gobert is a two-time defending Defensive Player of the Year winner, so this contract is likely the high-end of what Drummond could make.

opinion. 3 reasons why the Pistons shouldn't trade Drummond. light

The final comparison may be the closest to Drummond. Hassan Whiteside‘s numbers are the closest to what Drummond averages now, and Whiteside signed a four-year, $98.4 million contract worth an average annual value of $24.6 million. The season before he signed, Whiteside led the league in rebounding and averaged 25.1 points, 20.9 rebounds, 6.5 blocks and 1.1 steals per 100 possessions.

Similarly to Whiteside, Drummond will enter his age-27 season after signing a new deal this summer. Through 44 games this season, Drummond is averaging 25.0 points, 22.6 rebounds, 5.2 blocks and 2.6 steals per 100 possessions.

It’s hard to say where Drummond’s contract will finish out but his production in comparison would lead one to believe he could be a Defensive Player of the Year one day, provided the team success is there to match it. Drummond’s best argument for getting more money is he’s outplayed what Whiteside did at the time of his new deal and that Gobert will likely see his salary increase with the Jazz in 2021.

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The opposite argument is that it’s hard to win with a traditional center. But four centers who currently have a higher AAV than Drummond — Embiid, Al Horford, Gobert and Jokic — have made the playoffs and advanced to their respective conference semifinals, which proves its possible to win with a high-paid center.

Those teams have all drafted well and capitalized on young talent. With the Pistons recent successes under Ed Stefanski and the front office, drafting Bruce Brown in the second round and signing undrafted free agent Louis King, who shows promise, it’s possible this team can win with Drummond.

If they don’t get what they want for Drummond on the trade market, a sign-and-trade could be in play. The issue is Drummond, while still young, doesn’t necessarily fit the timeline of the Pistons’ best asset, Sekou Doumbouya. Front-loading his contract is an option to aid the Pistons’ free agent efforts when he gets older.

It’s a tough conundrum to be in but if Drummond loves Detroit, and wants to stay, it’s not a foregone conclusion the Pistons can’t compete. If he wants to make good on his “I’m not a quitter” and championship desires in Detroit, a discount could be in order.

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