Can anyone make Andre Drummond happy these days? Cavaliers guard Collin Sexton hopes that he and his teammates can.
Despite a flood of tumult and a franchise battling an image of ineptitude this week after coach John Beilein resigned his job just four months after the season started, the Cavs remain hopeful that they’ll be able to keep Drummond, who has a $28 million player option for next season. Cleveland acquired Drummond in a trade with the Pistons at the NBA’s trading deadline.
Sexton said he and his teammates will use the remainder of the season to try to recruit Drummond to stay when he hits free agency. “Oh yeah, we’ll talk to him a little bit, see where his mind’s at,” Sexton told me. “We’ve got 28 games left so we’re just going to try to make the best of it.”
When he was sent away from the Pistons at the trading deadline, Drummond left behind a messy situation in Detroit. He was angry that the Pistons did not tell him directly that he was being traded. But according to one report in The Athletic, Drummond told teammates that Cleveland is worse off than the Pistons had been.
Drummond took to Twitter to deny that report, however, calling it a, “lie.”
Opting In Might be Drummond’s Best Bet
Around the NBA, front-office executives increasingly expect that Drummond will opt in for next season, though it originally appeared that he was gung-ho for heading into free agency this summer.
But the landscape has shifted—the projected salary cap dropped heading into this offseason, few teams have cap space this summer and one of the teams that had interest in Drummond, the Hawks, got themselves a center when they traded for Clint Capela.
As his options have tightened, the chances Drummond plays out next season in Cleveland and goes from there have increased. While 2020 looks like a dead zone for free agency, more teams will have cap space in 2021 and if the league’s issues with its Chinese market are resolved, the salary cap could have a rebound.
There’s a chance, too, that the Cavs could seek to trade Drummond if he opted in, with the Knicks and Hornets—teams with previous interest in Drummond—as potential partners.
As one general manager told Heavy.com, the best the Pistons could get in return for Drummond was a 2023 second-round pick, likely from the Warriors. “Did you see what kind of market there was for him at the deadline?” the GM said. “Maybe you could do a little better if you know he’s opted in and you know you’ve got him for one year. But you’re not going to do much better than Detroit did. And they got nothing.”
Cavs Players to Recruit Drummond Ahead of Free Agency
The Cavaliers moved quickly to replace Beilein with top assistant J.B. Bickerstaff, on a permanent basis. Bickerstaff has had experience in emergency situations before, having twice taken over teams—in Houston in 2015-16 and in Memphis in 2017-18—on an interim basis. Looking to calm what has been a raucous season, the Cavs made Bickerstaff their coach without the interim tag.
Maybe Bickerstaff can provide some stability and help Drummond remain interested in staying in Cleveland, long-term.
Sexton was hopeful.
“It’s been amazing to have him,” Sexton said. “He is one of the best rebounders to ever play the game. He’s a shot-blocker. That’s what we needed, a shot-blocker and someone who is able to protect the rim for us, allow us pretty much to be better on defense and be aggressive because we know we have big fella back there ready to block shots, so it’s good.”
It’s only been two games, but Drummond has experienced the ups and downs of being a Cavalier this season. Cleveland lost his debut game by 41 points to the Clippers but bounced back to beat Atlanta by 22 in his second time out.
Drummond has a big decision to make. The next two months in Cleveland will help inform that decision.