The Cleveland Cavaliers have lost seven straight and nine of their last 10 games as the team that was once one of the league’s early surprises has come crashing back to reality. Now at 10-18 and in 13th in the East, the Cavs can firmly put both eyes on the future, rather than keeping one on a playoff push this season, and with that means shifting focus on playing young players who will be long-term fits.
That won’t change rotations too much in the backcourt, where Collin Sexton and Darius Garland already have the keys and are working out how to drive this Cavs team on a consistent basis, but in the frontcourt it will see one major change. Cleveland will now park center Andre Drummond in order to start and play Jarrett Allen, who they acquired from Brooklyn in the four-team James Harden trade, with Drummond sitting out until they can hopefully find him a new home via trade by the deadline.
Drummond did not play on Sunday in the Cavs’ loss to the Clippers due to “rest” and it seems he won’t play again, as ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Brian Windhorst spoke with his agent Jeff Schwartz of Excel.
When reached on Monday morning, Schwartz wouldn’t confirm or deny the decision, but told ESPN: “Whichever direction this goes, Andre is 27, in his prime, and I believe strongly that he has a great deal to add to a team building toward a postseason run.”
What will be interesting is to see what the market is like for Drummond, as the 27-year-old center is averaging 17.5 points and 13.5 rebounds per game this season for the Cavs and has long been one of the league’s best rebounders. At the same time, he’s not the most efficient scorer compared to other traditional big men in the league, and this year is shooting a career worst 47.4 percent from the field.
Still, there are some contenders out there that are very much in the market for an upgrade at center, and Drummond will be available for what one would think would be relatively cheap provided you can make the money work. Drummond makes $28.7 million this year, which complicates matters, particularly for teams without a bloated contract to send back. For example, the Raptors have been arguably the most well-known team in the league that has a desire to add a center this season, but it would be nearly impossible to do without a third team getting involved and making it a much bigger deal because they won’t be dealing their three highest paid players — Pascal Siakam, Kyle Lowry, and Fred VanVleet — in such a deal, and Norman Powell would seemingly be off the table as well on a team friendly $10.8 million deal. That leaves them without the money to match, and you run into this issue across the league.
The Blazers could use a Jusuf Nurkic replacement while he’s injured, but they won’t be dealing Lillard, McCollum, Nurkic, or Covington for a Drummond rental. The Nets are very much in the market for a center, but would have to send out Spencer Dinwiddie and DeAndre Jordan to make it happen, and that wouldn’t exactly build depth they need at center — along with the fact that Kyrie and KD very clearly want Jordan around. It’s possible a team like Dallas would sniff around, as James Johnson makes $15.7 million and would make facilitating a deal a bit easier.
It’s just hard to take a look around the league currently and find a comfortable home for Drummond that has a need for a center of his skills and the contracts to make a deal happen. It seems most likely that if he’s moved it’s as part of a larger three-team deal, but whatever the case, he won’t be in Cleveland for too much longer, either via trade or a buyout (which would likely move the Nets to the front of the line for him).