The Cleveland Cavaliers took part in the blockbuster James Harden trade last week. As one of the filler teams, they gave up a 2022 first-round pick and the oft-injured Dante Exum to acquire the Brooklyn Nets’ bouncy rim protector, Jarrett Allen.
The trade created interesting storylines for all parties involved, and for the Cavaliers, it’s about the future of their own defensive center, Andre Drummond.
According to Michael Sotto of HoopsHype, opposing team executives believe that the Cavs are looking to move on, as evident in unloading a potentially high draft pick.
Multiple Eastern Conference executives believe the writing is on the wall for Drummond’s future in Cleveland after the team gave up a first-round pick to acquire Allen, who is five years younger. Drummond will become an unrestricted free agent after the season.
“Drummond is definitely out of Cleveland,” one Eastern Conference executive predicted. “Cleveland wouldn’t give up a first if they didn’t want Allen long-term.”
Drummond is on the final year of his contract. He is set to make $28.7 million this season before officially becoming an unrestricted free agent.
There is no question as to who the more established and productive player is between Drummond and Allen. The former is averaging 14.5 points and 13.9 rebounds per game in his career, a two-time NBA All-Star, and three-time rebounding champ over the last four years. The latter, meanwhile, is yet to average a double-double in a season.
However, considering how UFAs usually go against the players’ current squad, especially for a small-market, perennial lottery team like Cleveland, it was probably best that to get his replacement now – the best part is they didn’t trade Drummond and he can still be shopped for new pieces and/or assets.
Where does Drummond fit?
There’s a long list of teams that should be salivating to get Drummond’s services. Aside from being an absolute rebounding machine, he’s also increasing his offensive and defensive production, compiling 17.5 points, 1.8 steals, and 1.7 blocks since 2018.
Here are some of the best fits.
The 2018-19 NBA champs are stumbling this season, and though it’s mostly due to their collapses in the fourth quarter, there’s also glaring hole left by veteran interior players Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol. Drummond is a big man that is certainly capable of filling those gaps.
It will be challenging to build a trade package, though. Outside OG Anunoby, there are few pieces to offer – Pascal Siakam may be untouchable, while Fred VanVleet and Kyle Lowry are redundant since Cleveland already has a backcourt in Collin Sexton and Darius Garland.
Golden State Warriors
The Warriors have had their share of great moments this season, but it’s mostly through sheer luck or Stephen Curry’s heroics, which they shouldn’t count on every game. They need a more imposing figure in the paint, among others, and Drummond could be a great option.
Unlike the Raptors, the Dubs have good, well-fitting pieces to offer, like Andrew Wiggins. Then, there’s also the Minnesota Timberwolves’ first-round pick for next year.
The Hornets are on the same boat as the Cavs – though flashing a ton of potential, they are still a huge question mark moving forward.
Here’s one key difference, though: Charlotte has the better playmaker in LaMelo ball, one that can truly make Drummond’s life easier. One can only imagine the lobs and pick-and-roll action between the two.
Should talks happen, Charlotte could offer a combination between PJ Washington, Miles Bridges, Terry Rozier, and Devonte Graham, alongside fillers and draft picks. That will help break the clog in the guard position with Ball, Rozier, and Graham, and also address the need for a reliable interior presence.