It was earlier reported that both the Cleveland Cavaliers and the camp of Andre Drummond have mutual interest in extending his stay with the Cavs. This isn’t just about the 6-foot-10 big man opting into the final year of his deal, but actually signing him to a long-term extension that goes beyond the 2020-21 campaign.
For what it’s worth, we believe that it would be in the best interest of the Cavs not to pursue this deal. Below we explain why.
For starters, we need to take a look at what the Cavs parted ways with in order to acquire Drummond last February. This cost them John Henson, Brandon Knight, and a 2023 second-round pick. In other words, it was an absolute steal. The Detroit Pistons were desperate to move Drummond prior to the deadline, and Cleveland pounced on the opportunity. Given that they practically got him for pennies on the dollar, so in the case that the Cavs actually lose him for nothing, it’s not going to hurt too much.
It is important to note that the uncertainty brought about by the pandemic-hit season will almost certainly mean that Drummond is going to opting into the final year of his deal. Entering free agency this offseason is going to be a risk, so the safer route for the two-time All-Star would be to see out the remainder of his current deal with Cleveland. He will be paid $28.6 million next season, and he will be hard-pressed to look for a team that will pay him that amount of money given the circumstances.
Because of the hiatus, Drummond was only able to play eight games for the Cavs, and we haven’t seen enough in terms of what sort of dynamic he will have with the rest of the team. However, under the assumption that he is going to opt in, Cleveland will be provided with at least some time to test Drummond’s fit with the team. If he somehow proves that he can be the centerpiece of the team moving forward, then Cleveland could always offer him a long-term extension by then. It’s undeniably a risky move for the Cavs, but at this point, it’s something worth taking.
The 2021 offseason is going to be packed with talent, and with a little bit of luck, Cleveland might even get away with re-signing Drummond by then. Other teams might be too focused on the likes of Giannis Antetokounmpo (potentially), Kawhi Leonard, or Anthony Davis, to name a few, that Drummond somewhat falls off the grid.
Another option would be to trade Drummond prior to the mid-season deadline. The Cavs can’t expect much in return by then, but if they are able to pull this off, then at the very least, they would get something out of the deal as opposed to letting him walk in the offseason.
It is also important to take a look at what Drummond actually brings to the table. He is without a doubt one of the best rebounders in the NBA today. However, beyond that, the 26-year-old’s skill set is nowhere in the elite level. Do the Cavs want to build around Drummond given this fact? After all, they still have a pretty good rebounder on their side in a guy that goes by the name of Kevin Love.
Finally, another crucial aspect to consider here is the upcoming 2020 draft. The Cavs have the second-best odds to win the first-overall pick in the lottery, and it is all but guaranteed that they’re going to get a Top 5 pick, at the very least. If the Cavs front office feel that it would be in their best interest to build around a big man, then they have a couple of viable options. 7-foot-1 Memphis freshman James Wiseman and 19-year-old USC center Onyeka Okongwu will likely be available for Cleveland. Both guys will probably still need a few years before they reach they enter elite level, but there’s no denying that the potential is there. In the long run, either of these two prospects might be an even better option than Drummond, with all things considered.
At the end of the day, the good news for the Cavs is that they have options. They appear to be on the brink of becoming relevant again in the NBA, and the next few months will be pivotal for the organization. They need to make the right decisions because failing to do so might just put their future in jeopardy. They’ve been in the dark for the past couple of years, so it’s due time that they get a break. Thankfully for them, their fortune appears to be in their hands.