It appears as if it’s a question of when rather than if when it comes to Andre Drummond trade rumors this season. The Pistons star big man has reportedly been linked to multiple teams in trades as the Pistons seek to ship him out before he opts out of his contract this summer to become a free agent. Drummond has been very clear about wanting a big pay day, which apparently isn’t something the Pistons are willing to do.
Detroit is on the way to a rebuild, and Drummond is their best healthy player this season and is individually playing out of his mind. The Pistons are going to want at least something reasonable in return for him even if it seems like he’s destined to leave Detroit this summer. So what is a team on the verge of rebuilding going to ask for? Draft picks. Always draft picks.
Per league sources, Detroit has been actively shopping Drummond for some time. One source said talks between the Pistons and Hawks began around Christmas. As The Athletic’s Sam Amick recently reported, Atlanta and Detroit would have already completed a deal for Drummond had the Hawks been willing to throw in a first-round pick. The initial deal consisted of only expiring contracts.
Yet while Detroit’s talks with Atlanta regarding Drummond were revealed by ESPN last week, a source with knowledge of the talks downplayed the prospect of that deal happening. While Atlanta’s brutal season (8-30) has added significant pressure to bolster the roster and give young star Trae Young more help, the Hawks, per a second source, could have landed Drummond already if they were willing to include a first-round pick in the deal. Boston and Dallas, it’s worth noting here at the top, are known to be looking for a big.
There’s a lot of fascinating information in this reporting. It’s interesting that the Hawks are feeling pressure to start winning more games and to give Trae Young more talent to play with, but they aren’t willing to part with a first-round pick to do it. Apparently it’s enough to stop a deal from happening altogether, especially if that deal is only involving expiring contracts. The Pistons need something to show for their efforts in a Drummond trade and while salary cap is useful they could get plenty of that by just waiting out the season.
The Pistons are pretty clearly in a position right now where they just want to get whatever return is possible before Drummond leaves in free agency, but they don’t seem to want current players in return, just want salary room and picks. This is going to put them in a position of weakness right now but one of advantage around the trade deadline. Teams that want Drummond are going to be more willing to part with a first-round pick when the deadline looms larger and, even if they don’t, the Pistons can always play out the season and just see how things lay. This gives them bargaining power at the deadline. Teams have to give them what they want for Drummond. Not the other way around. Whether that’s going to be Atlanta that blinks first or another team is still to be determined, but now we know a bit more about what Detroit is looking for in a potential trade.