When asked if there is a player whom the Brooklyn Nets could acquire to boost their struggling defense, ESPN Senior NBA Insider Adrian Wojnarowski didn’t hesitate in bringing up the one player atop Nets fans’ minds.
“There’s a natural fit out there with Andre Drummond in Cleveland,” Woj said Friday on ESPN’s “NBA Countdown” ahead of Brooklyn’s game against the Toronto Raptors.
Making that fit a reality, though, is harder than it looks.
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Woj: Spencer Dinwiddie Could Be a Trade Piece
Drummond, a two-time All-Star who led the league in rebounding three of the past four seasons, would give the Nets a bona-fide center to add to their superteam of Kevin Durant, James Harden and Kyrie Irving.
After dealing Jarrett Allen (along with several other significant assets) to the Cavaliers as part of the deal that brought Harden to Brooklyn, the Nets have used Jeff Green and DeAndre Jordan to fill the void at center. Neither is an ideal No. 1 option at the position.
Hence the Nets’ speculated interest in the 27-year-old Drummond. His skill set makes him enticing, but his expiring contract makes him a difficult chip to acquire.
“He’s the final year of his deal at $28 million,” Woj said of Drummond, “and, listen, Cleveland’s future is clearly with Jarrett Allen, who came from the Nets in that four-team trade. It’s difficult for Brooklyn to put the pieces together to make a trade given Drummond’s salary.
One piece at Brooklyn’s disposal: Speaking of Dinwiddie, who averaged 21 points and seven assists last season but tore his ACL in December.
“He’ll be a free agent this summer,” Woj said of the 27-year-old Dinwiddie, “and there are teams who have interest in trading for him to have his Bird Rights, to be able to sign him potentially long-term, perhaps teams who don’t have cap space. It would be a way to get him on their roster, then they could sign him. This is a player who could perhaps command $70, 75, maybe 80 million in the market even after an ACL injury. So watch between now and the trade deadline as I think teams reach out to the Nets about Dinwiddie. And that gives them another trade asset here as they look to improve this roster.”
What about a buyout of Drummond?
The Cavs also could opt to buy out Drummond, clearing a path for him to land in Brooklyn. The Athletic’s Zach Harper had this to say on the matter last week:
“A couple of league sources mentioned after the Harden trade to Brooklyn that it’s a matter of time before he finds his way into a buyout and joins up to give them help with the interior.”
Still, the Cavs might not want to head in the buyout direction if they remain alive in the Eastern Conference playoff picture as they are now at 10-13. But if they fall off, a buyout of Drummond could help them get some money back. In that scenario, the Nets could sign Drummond with either their $5.7 million taxpayer mid-level exception or the $5.7 million disabled-player exception they received because of Dinwiddie’s season-ending injury.
“I’m told that (Drummond) is not necessarily interested in a contract buyout before the trade deadline, which is March 25,” Woj said Friday, “but he could be in play potentially with a buyout after that date if the Cavs don’t find a trade for him in the interim.”
Drummond is a Mount Vernon, New York native who played collegiately at UConn. This season, his field-goal percentage is down (46.5 percent, compared to his career 53.8 field-goal percentage) and his turnovers are up (3.5, compared to the 2.0 he’s averaging per game for his career), but he’s once again leading the NBA in rebounding with 14.6 per game.