Andre Drummond

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With this era’s flame still flickering, Pistons load bench with name recognition

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NBC Sports’ Dan Feldman is grading every team’s offseason based on where the team stands now relative to its position entering the offseason. A ‘C’ means a team is in similar standing, with notches up or down from there.

Just three teams have had the same trio of $16 million-plus-salary players each of the previous two seasons and next season:

Golden State won a championship, returned to the NBA Finals and enters next season with four-ish stars in a two-star league.

Detroit missed the playoffs, got swept in the first round and enters next season with, um, a reasonable chance at making the Eastern Conference playoffs.

The Pistons’ expensive core has underwhelmed while limiting flexibility. Drummond and Jackson are paid too much to trade for value and too good to tank with. The best option is probably the least drastic, keeping this group together and hoping for the best.

Same story last summer. Same story this summer.

But maybe not same story next summer.

Jackson’s contract expires after next season. Drummond has a player option he sounds ready to decline. At that point, the Pistons must decide what to do with Griffin – keep his top supporting players, find new ones or trade him to kickstart a rebuild.

In the meantime, Detroit added yet another expensive potential starter and a few recognizable reserves. This far into the plan – no matter how lackluster the results so far – the present remains a high priority.

The Pistons turned Jon Leuer‘s deadweight contract and the No. 45 pick into Tony Snell, No. 37 pick Deividas Sirvydis, No. 57 pick Jordan Bone, the Trail Blazers’ 2023 second-rounder and $3 million. I would’ve rather kept Snell and the No. 30 pick sent by the Bucks for taking his undesirable contract (and Detroit’s original second-rounder, No. 45). But that wouldn’t have generated the $3 million cash.

Milwaukee dumped Snell because he’s too expensive for a fringe rotation player there and due $12,178,571 in 2020-21. Leuer’s contract was expiring. But the Pistons are so desperate on the wing, they might start Snell.

The Pistons also signed Derrick Rose (two years, $15 million), Markieff Morris (two years, $6.56 million) and Joe Johnson (partially guaranteed, surely minimum). That’s a former MVP, someone who finished fourth in Most Improved Player voting at age 24 and a seven-time All-Star.

But those likely backups are past their primes. Rose looked like he’d fall out of the NBA before a resurgent/outlier-shooting season last year. Though helpful more often recently, Morris didn’t crack the Thunder’s playoff rotation. Johnson has been playing in a 3-on-3 league for NBA retirees.

Expectations shouldn’t be too high. But there’s at least hope this group packs more punch than departed Ish Smith provided off the bench. More bench scoring could limit the load on Griffin, who – even in his best season in years – wore down by the playoffs.

Because of Rose’s injury history, it was important to sign Tim Frazier (minimum) as third point guard. Claiming Christian Wood off waivers was another a good under-the-radar move. But signing Joe Johnson will make it harder for Wood to make the regular-season roster.

If all goes well, Detroit’s best move of the offseason will be drafting Sekou Doumbouya No. 15. I rated him No. 7 on my board. But that was because I like his raw talent in a weak draft, not because I’m convinced he’ll become a good NBA player. It’ll take a while to assess that pick.

This summer wasn’t easy for the Pistons, but it was simple. Their status quo could change soon. If they play well next season, they’ll face difficult choices with Jackson and maybe Drummond. If they don’t play well next season, that’ll invite its own problems.

They’re hoping to face the play-well issues and built this team accordingly. But with limited flexibility, the outlook remains similar, with next summer looming as the major inflection point.

Offseason grade: C

Pistons C Andre Drummond, who has $28,751,774 player option: ‘I’m a free agent next summer’

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Pistons center Andre Drummond holds a $28,751,774 player option for 2020-21.

Did he tip his hand already?

Drummond (hat tip: Aaron Ferguson of PistonPowered)

I’m a free agent next summer.

It should be fun. I’m excited. I think I’m the only one that has a big contract coming up for that year.

For next year’s free agency, obviously the year I have this year is really important, this being my contract year. The way I play will show what next offseason can do for me. So, I think for me as a player, just continue to play hard and do what I do best and making an effort to help my team on both ends of the court. Anything is possible next summer.

Drummond on Instagram:

Drummond completed his rookie-scale contract then re-signed with the Pistons as a restricted free agent in 2015. Doing it that way, rather than signing an extension, was just a formality to increase salary-cap flexibility. Drummond never really explored the market.

He’ll have that opportunity next summer or the following summer as an unrestricted free agent.

Drummond is right: Next year will be a weak free-agent class. Beyond Anthony Davis, it’s a steep fall. Drummond – an excellent rebounder and finisher – projects to be among the best players available. He’ll be 26 and could land a huge contract, in Detroit or elsewhere. That said, it’s tough for limited centers like him.

At this point, Drummond planning to opt out is probably the best thing he can do for himself and, by extension, the Pistons. The only way he’ll have better choices than guaranteeing himself $28,751,774 is with a strong season. A contract year is great motivation.

If he falls short, he can always opt in. It’s a fallback route. Nothing he says now is binding. But the goal should be playing well enough to opt out.

Andre Drummond drinks a beer per day to get the calories

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Andre Drummond is gearing up for a potential contract year.

That means getting in better shape.

Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press:

The Detroit Pistons center said recently he has eliminated red meat from his diet mainly consisting of fish and vegetables.

To ensure the necessary caloric intake, he drinks a beer per day.

He was drawn to Miller Lite because, well, that’s what his personal chef bought.

I’m not a nutritionist, but it seems there are healthier ways to get calories. That said, Drummond is 6-foot-11 with a wide frame. I doubt a single light beer per day will harm him. If he enjoys it, that matters, too.

This just isn’t how it usually works.

Andre Drummond withdraws from Team USA for FIBA World Cup

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Why did Team USA add Heat center Bam Adebayo to a World Cup training-camp roster that already included Brook Lopez, Myles Turner, Andre Drummond, Julius Randle and P.J. Tucker?

Because the U.S. was losing one of those bigs.

USA Basketball release:

USA Basketball today announced the addition of Miami Heat center Bam Adebayo to the USA Men’s National Team and to the roster of players expected to participate in the USA’s Aug. 5-9 World Cup training camp. USA Basketball also announced that 6-11 forward Jaren Jackson Jr. (Memphis Grizzlies) has been added to the USA Select Team roster, and that Andre Drummond (Detroit Pistons) and Montrezl Harrell (Los Angeles Clippers) had withdrawn from the World Cup training camp.

Drummond had potential to contribute. He would’ve thrived with international goaltending rules, which allow players to put back rebounds above the cylinder.

At least the Americans are deep at center. If anything goes wrong with the main-roster players, Jaren Jackson Jr. could even get called up.

Still, reasonable depth isn’t star power. That’s where Team USA is really lacking.

Mason Plumlee added to Team USA player pool (Montrezl Harrell, too, but he’s already out)

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The story of Team USA’s 2019 FIBA World Cup roster in a nutshell: USA Basketball announced Montrezl Harrell and Mason Plumlee were added to the player pool. Less than an hour later, Harrell put out word he probably wouldn’t play.

Shams Charania of The Athletic:

Many stars swiftly turned down Team USA for this year’s FIBA World Cup. More accepted an invitation to try out then withdrew. Now even Harrell is out.

Who’s in?

Here are the players slated to attend training camp, with rough positional designations:

Point guards

Kemba Walker (Boston Celtics)

Kyle Lowry (Toronto Raptors)

Combo guards

Donovan Mitchell (Utah Jazz)

Marcus Smart (Boston Celtics)

Wings

Khris Middleton (Milwaukee Bucks)

Jayson Tatum (Boston Celtics)

Jaylen Brown (Boston Celtics)

Harrison Barnes (Sacramento Kings)

Big forwards

P.J. Tucker (Houston Rockets)

Thaddeus Young (Chicago Bulls)

Kyle Kuzma (Los Angeles Lakers)

Centers

Brook Lopez (Milwaukee Bucks)

Andre Drummond (Detroit Pistons)

Myles Turner (Indiana Pacers)

Julius Randle (New York Knicks)

Mason Plumlee (Denver Nuggets)

Plumlee is an odd addition (except considering his connections). That’s so many centers – especially because USA Basketball also invited Harrell, another center. It seems original selections Lopez, Drummond and Turner could hold down the position.

The Americans could use more backcourt depth. J.J. Redick, who just signed with the Pelicans, might provide it.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

As an excellent outside shooter, Redick could fill a valuable role.

USA Basketball also announced the select team, a group of young players that practices against the senior squad:

At this rate, maybe a select-team player or two will make the final World Cup roster.