There are NBA free agency and trade rumours everywhere you look. That’s despite not knowing where the salary cap or luxury tax will be. One player that needs cropping up is Andre Drummond, a two-time All-Star who has a mammoth player option for next season.
Chris Sheridan of BasketballNews.com reported Drummond is undecided about whether to take his $28.8 million player option for 2020/21. In an underwhelming free agent class, Drummond would be one of the premier names available, but given the uncertainty caused by COVID-19, the assumption was that he would opt in for such a huge number.
Drummond has so many choices this offseason. Here are four possible outcomes, covering free agency, trades and other (perhaps less likely) options.
Stays in Cleveland
Taking that hefty player option and remaining with the Cleveland Cavaliers looks quite likely. An extension with the Cavs is in play, too. Cleveland, according to Brian Windhorst, are looking to take a ‘step forward’ in 2021 after finishing last season at 19-46.
A playoff berth is likely out of reach for the Cavs, but there’s upside on that roster in Collin Sexton, Darius Garland and Kevin Porter Jr. Kevin Love and Drummond make for an experienced frontcourt, and they’re selecting fifth in the upcoming NBA Draft.
Money would keep Drummond in Cleveland for 2021. Extension talks could take place, but neither party benefit from that at the moment with the Cavs already committed to Love long-term and Drummond perhaps wanting to see how competitive they are.
Matching salary is an issue if Drummond opts in. Teams will have interest in an interior presence like Drummond, particularly with the number of dominant bigs on contenders, but finding enough salary to make a trade work without damaging your current roster is tricky.
A deal with the Boston Celtics has been floated often. It’s a longshot as Boston isn’t desperate to land a big-name centre, and would have to include Gordon Hayward.
There just aren’t many trade partners for Drummond at this stage unless he opts in and then Cleveland tries to flip him to a team with cap space. Are any of those rebuilding teams trading for one year of Drummond?
Drummond could opt out and ‘ring chase’ or whatever we choose to call moving to a contender. A sign-and-trade might be possible if he were to take a significant salary cut in 2020/21, perhaps going for something like $40 million over three years. Such a scenario seems very unlikely, though, and it would require Drummond to accept a drastic drop in salary.
Of course, he’s never played deep into the playoffs, and he’s not going to be doing so with Cleveland any time soon. Maybe he views this as a chance to use his leverage to get a move to somewhere that he contribute to a long postseason run.
No contender is taking Drummond on a big salary. Having just turned 27, it’s early in his career to move for a shot at a ring. With over $100 million pocketed in his career already, though, maybe Drummond takes this chance to go take a smaller deal and join
Free agent move
This is the opposite of a ring chase. If money is the name of the game for Drummond this offseason, he will be looking at the teams with cap space and accepting he will be losing a lot of games next year. A trade with the Atlanta Hawks was mooted at the deadline, but they picked up Clint Capela instead, ruling them out of a move for Drummond this winter. The Knicks have Mitchell Robinson.
Charlotte are the only feasible landing spot of teams with a lot of cap space. If they don’t draft James Wiseman, the Hornets will be looking to the free agent market for a big man. Drummond could be their guy alongside Devonte Graham, Terry Rozier and P.J. Washington.
Declining the player option to become a free agent would probably mean Drummond has a big contract lined up. As the Hornets gradually escape the crippling contracts of Nicolas Batum, Cody Zeller and Bismack Biyombo, will they hand Drummond a long-term deal? Could Drummond get $80 million over four years?
Such a pact would be enough to get him to turn down the player option, but that’s a big number for a player a non-shooting centre.