If the trade rumors around Andre Drummond — and teammate JaVale McGee — were not growing loud enough, Cleveland just traded for its center of the future in a smart pickup of Jarrett Allen as part of the blockbuster four-team James Harden trade. The Drummond trade beat is only going to get louder and louder.
How did Drummond respond to all this? He went out and thrashed the Knicks’ interior defense for 33 points and 23 rebounds on Friday night.
— NBA (@NBA) January 16, 2021
After the game, Drummond sounded like a veteran who has heard the rumors before, via Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
“I play the same way each and every night,” Drummond said. “The trade, it is what it is. There’s nothing I can do about that. If I do get traded, I don’t control that either. I’m just here to play basketball with whatever jersey I have on. That’s all I can focus on right now.”
It’s a good bet McGee gets traded somewhere before the deadline by the Cavs.
Drummond is more complicated because he makes $28.7 million this season and then is a free agent — that’s a lot of money to match in a trade (and pay when a team lands him) for a rental center.
Drummond is averaging 19.3 points and 15.3 rebounds a game this season, and while his scoring efficiency has dipped to start this season there is no reason to believe it will not get back up near his 54% career average. He remains as good a rebounder as there is in the game today.
The challenge with Drummond for teams is he’s an old-school style center who does not fit with how the NBA is evolving — this season, 92.4% of his shots last season have come within 10 feet of the rim. He can score inside and protect the rim on defense, but ask him to space the floor on offense or step out and guard a modern big near the arc and he struggles. Drummond brings real value to the game, just not as much as he is getting paid in teams’ eyes.
The trade rumors are going to continue to swirl around Drummond all season, and J.B. Bickerstaff has some juggling to do to keep all his bigs happy and getting minutes, but if Drummond keeps responding like this, the Cavaliers will be just fine with it — especially when Collin Sexton and Darius Garland get healthy and return.