The inevitable day has finally arrived. Andre Drummond will sign a maximum contract valued at $130 million over five years, numbers according to ESPN's Marc Stein.
Pistons owner Tom Gores said Drummond was a max player more than two years ago. This summer, he put his money where his mouth was. The contract will be far the richest in the franchise's history.
"Andre's a max player," Gores said after the final game of the 2014-15 season. "He's a maximum guy, yeah. He's not only a great player, he's a great person."
Now Drummond will have to prove he has the maturity, leadership and talent to earn the title of max player and franchise cornerstone. It's no longer about an exciting young player. Drummond is a highly paid veteran and with that comes enormous expectations.
But first, let's consider the deal at hand.
So why did a deal that was inevitable two years ago take so long to happen? It all has to do with the byzantine salary cap rules in the NBA. Dre could have signed the deal last offseason but decided to wait to give the Pistons more salary cap flexibility. Drummond has an $8.2 million cap hold with the conclusion of his old contract, and his gargantuan salary north of $22 million doesn't take effect until his new deal is officially signed.
By waiting to sign the new deal it effectively gives Detroit several million more in salary cap space to give to free agents and improve the team.
The next question is, of course, is Drummond worth a max deal? Drummond still has a lot to learn on the defensive end, needs to improve his post game or abandon it completely and, of course, needs to up his free-throw percentage closer to the 50 percent mark.
But in this market the answer is obviously yes. Players inferior to Drummond will be getting maximum contract. Even if Dre doesn't improve he's still already the best rebounder in the NBA and a deadly pick-and-roll finisher. He's also just 22 years old. He's younger than several players who were just selected in last week's draft including Detroit's own Michael Gbinije.
That means that even if you think Drummond isn't worth a maximum deal today, the bet the Pistons are making is that he will be worth a max deal and more over the next several years.