ESPN’s Zach Lowe dropped a bit of a bombshell in his deep dive into the Pistons, suggesting that the Pistons could be willing to trade their franchise cornerstone Andre Drummond. He also suggests that it’d be a shock if the Pistons pulled something off, and quite so. It’d take the type of blockbuster that rarely occurs in the NBA.
Typically what you see with a trade of a player of Drummond’s caliber is a firesale for a team to go young (for evidence, look no further than Sacramento’s deal for DeMarcus Cousins. Or, on second thought, don’t). Rarely is it the type of talent-for-talent deal that the Pistons would likely be looking to pursue. Because certainly, the idea wouldn’t be to dump Drummond, it’d be to use him as a player of value to acquire some other player of value.
However, the landscape around the league could be more ripe than usual to accommodate that type of blockbuster, with an unusual number of talented players in less than ideal roles or situations. And in this case, Drummond could be the type of player to help the Pistons acquire one of those top tier guys. That’s about the basis for the Drummond-Cousins rumor, despite whether it was just a terrible idea or terriblest idea ever.
If you call up the Bulls asking about Jimmy Butler for Reggie Jackson, you’re going to get hung up on before you get his last name out. But Andre Drummond would get their attention. A big part of that is that Dre is still just 23 years old, offering the suggestion of upside that it typically takes to land a top player in his prime.
But the clock is ticking on that type of a deal. If the Pistons still think Drummond will be producing along the same lines over the next couple of years, a 24 or 25 year old plateaued Drummond would likely be much less enticing for potential trade partners. What that also means is that the Pistons shouldn’t balk at also including additional young players to pull the deal off. Don’t let Henry Ellenson or even Stanley Johnson get in the way of landing an elite player.
A few quick disclaimers:
- These ideas are merely speculation, not based on any rumors or league information - and these things rarely happen, so take it with a grain of salt.
- I’m not personally advocating for any of the following trade suggestions, simply pointing out what may make sense mutually. Dre is still a young, immensely talented player, despite his disappointing performance for much of the season. The potential is still there. So these deals are ones that leave the Pistons with a player talented enough to fend off seller’s remorse.
- I’ll mention this again later, but there’d probably need to be a second deal involved to fill any gaps.
- We’re getting close to the trade deadline. The summer may make more sense if the Pistons are really looking to, let’s not say trade Drummond, rather capitalize on Drummond’s trade value in order to acquire an elite player.
Andre Drummond for Jimmy Butler
The Chicago Bulls are a mess. Butler has had issues with the team’s dysfunctional front office, and according to reports, reasonably so. With potentially two first round picks in the upcoming draft and a couple of solid young players in Bobby Portis and Denzel Valentine, a youth movement could make sense for the Bulls. But would Jerry Reinsdorf sign off on both of his two professional sports teams entering a rebuilding phase?
Butler has improved continuously, even posting a career year this season at 27 years old, and is under contract until 2020. But out of any possible deal out there, this one may make the most sense for both sides. The biggest question is what other teams might put on the table in a potential bidding war for Butler - I’m looking at you, Celtics. But even if it has to turn into a package from the Pistons, a deal centered around Drummond could be compelling for both sides.
Potential: 7/10 dancing penguins
Andre Drummond for C.J. McCollum
It’d take some other folks to make the salaries work and might make more sense to tackle over the summer, once McCollum’s extension goes into effect. But the Trail Blazers have also had a disappointing season with much of their trouble pinned on the defensive pairing of McCollum in the backcourt. Already an elite scorer off the ball, if the Pistons feel like McCollum is more of a natural at point guard (where he currently spends 35 percent of his minutes), he could have even more upside potential.
The Blazers have been looking for their answer at big man ever since LaMarcus Aldridge’s departure in 2015. Drummond could be that answer.
Potential: 4/10 dancing penguins (though could have more potential over the summer)
Andre Drummond for Paul George
The Pacers are thoroughly mediocre. They haven’t been as bad as I expected them to be before the season, but they’re still going nowhere as currently built. But 20-year-old Myles Turner has gotten even better after his impressive rookie season. If I’m the Pacers, go young and build around Turner.
Now a straight up Andre Drummond for Paul George deal doesn’t make sense for the Pacers, with their long-term center already in place. It’d probably take another team getting involved. Perhaps something like this:
Two problems though: Larry Bird has insisted that he wants to keep George and George also has the ability to opt out of his contract at the end of next season. So it’d have to take an offer you can’t refuse for Bird to pull the trigger, and it’s not too easy to make one of those - especially for what could wind up being just one season of play.
Potential: 2/10 dancing penguins
Andre Drummond for Klay Thompson
Yeah, a 46-9 team probably isn’t going to mess with something that’s working so well. Also note it’d take a little salary filler to work out. But in theory, Golden State would be addressing their lone weakness by dealing from a position of strength. It’d free up extra shots for Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson, and Andre Iguodala would easily be able to slide into the starting lineup.
No longer sharing touches with Durant and Curry, Thompson could explode as a star in his own right with Detroit.
Potential: 3/10 dancing penguins
Andre Drummond to Boston for Brooklyn’s 2017 first round pick, Amir Johnson, and Jae Crowder
With Kevin Love out for extended time in Cleveland, the Celtics could feel like this is their chance to make a run. Their biggest weakness is rebounding, where they’re ranked 27th in the league. Adding one of the most dominant rebounders the league has seen since Bill Russell might help there.
For the Pistons’ side, this is a risky one. Heck, there always is risk when it comes to prospects. Markelle Fultz and Lonzo Ball are certainly the best point guard prospects we’ve seen since Kyrie Irving, each could be potential stars. Or maybe not. And whew, the risk involved in trading for that pick during midseason? What if Brooklyn goes on some random winning streak? What if the lottery balls don’t cooperate and the Pistons are left with a fourth pick? When it comes to making a big move, this looks more along the lines of the prototype - but I’m skeptical that it really makes sense for the Pistons unless they’re really concerned about what he may develop like over the next couple of years.
Potential: 2/10 dancing penguins
As I mentioned, any of these hypothetical deals would probably require a second hypothetical deal. Like when the Pistons trade for Reggie Jackson left the team thin on the wings, so they followed it up by dealing for Tayshaun Prince. In these cases, the Pistons would probably need to deal for a center to improve their big man depth. Marcus Morris for your favorite underused center if the Pistons are getting a wing, Reggie Jackson for your favorite more highly paid underused center if the Pistons were to get McCollum. There.
And for guests visiting DBB from other teams, it’s not your spare parts. For the Pistons to give up their most valuable player, it’d be to land someone your team really values (But to y’all, welcome to DBB and I’m certainly interested in your feedback/interest of Drummond).
What say you DBB? What might an acceptable Andre Drummond deal look like to you? Or do you just have the red pandas lined up for any potential deal involving him?