The NBA’s March 25 trade deadline is just three weeks away, and the rumors are swirling. Could the Chicago Bulls be looking for an upgrade at center?
Shams Charania linked them to Cleveland Cavaliers big and two-time NBA All-Star Andre Drummond in his latest report for The Athletic:
The Bulls have registered interest in Drummond, sources said. Cleveland has had some exploratory calls on Drummond, but skepticism remains on whether the team can find a desirable trade. The center is owed $28.7 million this season.
This comes as somewhat of a surprise, given the controversial nature of Drummonds’s appeal around the league. He’s often labeled an “empty calories All-Star” in that he can stuff the stat sheet but rarely impacts winning.
The 27-year old big was averaging 17.5 points, 13.5 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 1.6 steals, and 1.2 blocks before being permanently benched as the Cavaliers searched for a trade partner.
It should be noted that Cleveland acquired Drummond at last year’s deadline for the incredibly small fee of Brandon Knight, John Henson, and a 2023 second-round pick that very well may never convey.
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There’s Competition for a Drummond Trade
Despite the consensus view of Andre Drummond around the league, don’t expect him to still be in Cleveland after the trade deadline. Some team will take a flyer on the four-time rebounds leader simply based on the numbers he provides in the stat sheet, regardless of whether they “impact winning” or not.
Charania noted in the same report that the Toronto Raptors have been engaged with the Cavaliers over talks for Drummond over past months, with no deal obviously yet agreed to. It could mean no deal is imminent, but it could also be that both sides are waiting for the other to blink, before eventually agreeing to a deal on March 25.
Outside of Toronto, Charania had noted a number of teams taking an interest in Nikola Vucevic of the Orlando Magic. But given the exorbitant price it may take to pry him from his NBA home of nine seasons, expect teams that fall short in those sweepstakes to likely pivot towards a potential trade for Drummond.
If it turns into a bidding war for the nine-year veteran, don’t look for Chicago to participate. They’ve likely got a price in mind that they think works for both parties, and outside of that, should be considered uninterested.
A Bulls Trade for Drummond Makes Sense, Under One Stipulation
It’s no coincidence that the Chicago Bulls are interested in an expiring $28.7 million salary while serving as home to one of their own in Otto Porter Jr. The 27-year old forward is on the payroll for $28.4 million this year.
Is it possible that we could see a Porter-for-Drummond swap? Financially, the deal works in theory.
For the Cavaliers, turning a large expiring salary into an early stab at Porter’s free agency would make sense, if they’d previously discussed him as an option in the upcoming offseason. Cleveland would acquire his Bird Rights in the deal, allowing them first dibs at an offer to keep him in-house next season and/or beyond.
On the other end, using Porter’s salary to get some short-term help is likely the best possible outcome for the Bulls. They’re currently chasing an Eastern Conference playoff spot, currently half a game back of the eighth seed.
Chicago’s one of the league’s worst teams in points allowed in the paint at 49.9 nightly. Furthermore, as opposed to the Cavaliers’ opportunity with Porter, the Bulls would not acquire Drummond’s Bird Rights in this deal. Because his salary this year was a player option, he was signed using strictly cap space.