The Chicago Bulls are getting serious about their search for improved rim protection next season. If their reported interest in Brooklyn Nets big man Andre Drummond is legit, the Bulls could get a player that is capable of more than he has shown in the last couple of seasons.
Chicago is expected to return center Nikola Vucevic along with the rest of its core. So finding a suitable backup has been a priority.
Bulls vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas mentioned athleticism, defense, shooting, and size as potential areas the front office could target in his exit interview. Drummond would provide three of those things.
He is also capable of being more than that which should really pique the Bulls’ interest.
The Big Penguin
Drummond was selected with the ninth overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft by the Detroit Pistons. He averaged 14.4 points and 13.9 rebounds in his seven-plus seasons as a Piston before being traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2020.
NBC Sports Chicago’s K.C. Johnson reported the Bulls anticipated interest.
“The Bulls are one of many teams who are expected to join the market for veteran center Andre Drummond. If that marriage were to happen, expect a veteran’s minimum salary.”
While the game changed around Drummond, he still flashed the skill set that earned him a massive five-year, $127 million contract back in 2016. This past season with the Nets was no different.
Interestingly, the Nets were 6.1 points per 100 possessions better with Drummond on the floor this past season, per Cleaning the Glass. That is the second-best differential of his career.
Conversely, Brooklyn was also 4.3 points worse defensively with Drummond on the floor.
But Drummond made the Philadelphia 76ers defense 0.1 points per 100 possessions better before he was traded along with Ben Simmons. He also made the Los Angeles Lakers 2.0 points per 100 possessions better the year before.
The Bulls’ needs are clear-cut, writes Sports Illustrated’s Chris Herring. Their commitment to addressing them has come into question following Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer reporting that they are averse to spending their full mid-level exception this offseason.
But, per Johnson, any potential deal would be for the veteran minimum which, due to Drummond’s status as a 10-year veteran, comes in at around $2.7 million, per Spotrac.
Incumbent backup center Tony Bradley picked up his $2 million option on June 28, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. But ABC-7’s Mark Schanowksi expects him to either be traded or waived leaving an even bigger hole in that spot.
Johnson had already reported that rumors of a Rudy Gobert trade had been overblown.
He also noted that the Bamba talks were all but dwindled after a report from the Chicago Sun-Times’ Joe Cowley that the Bulls did not want to meet the fourth-year pro’s asking price.
In Drummond, they would be landing a more proven player on a presumably cheaper deal.
That makes this a low-risk move that has a high payoff for the Bulls in particular as a team that lacked what Drummond brings last season.
Filling in the Gaps
Part of the reason Detroit moved on was Drummond’s lack of a perimeter game. The 6-foot-10, 279-pound Drummond is about as throwback of a center as they come in a game that, as Vince Ellis wrote for the Detroit Free Press, “a game that wants three-point shooting”.
He has taken all of 114 threes in his career, hitting just five of them.
But the 28-year-old pivot is a two-time All-Star in his own right as well as a four-time rebounding champion.
The Bulls ranked 28th in rebounding last season, per NBA.com.
There aren’t likely to be many parings between Drummond and Vucevic, as we saw with backup Tristan Thompson this past season. But the added layer of physicality and toughness should not be lost on this team and fanbase.
Drummond could provide just what the Bulls are looking for as a complement to what Vucevic does while also fitting their decree to improve on the margins.