The Atlanta Hawks are in trade discussions with the Detroit Pistons for center Andre Drummond, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. A deal reportedly isn’t imminent as Detroit continues to talk to other teams, per Woj.
The 26-year-old Drummond has spent his entire career in Detroit after being selected with the No. 9 overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft. He is having arguably his best season yet, averaging a career-high 17.6 points to go along with a league-leading 15.8 rebounds per game. Drummond holds a $28 million player option for next season he is unlikely to pick up, per Woj. Detroit is searching for a deal before losing a productive player for nothing.
Atlanta seems like a perplexing match at first glance. The Hawks have the league’s worst record at 7-27 amid reports of frustration inside the locker room. Second-year point guard Trae Young is having an all-star-caliber season — on offense, at least — but the rest of Atlanta’s young core has failed to help him win games. Losing co-star John Collins for 25 games due to a suspension for banned substances didn’t help.
Does this trade rumor makes sense? Let’s investigate from both sides.
Why the Hawks would want Drummond
Here are a few reasons why Atlanta has interest in Drummond:
- The Hawks see Collins as a power forward. Last season Collins played 97 percent of his minutes alongside true centers Dewayne Dedmon and Alex Len. As Dedmon departed to Sacramento this season, Collins has seen an uptick in minutes at center. While Collins is blocking more shots than ever this year — his block rate is 5.3 percent, up from 1.8 percent last year — Atlanta still appears to like him more at the four. Sliding Drummond next to Collins would give the Hawks additional toughness in the paint and a more traditional front line with two classic bigs.
- Drummond can help the Hawks stop being a laughingstock. Atlanta was mentioned as a darkhorse playoff candidate in the East at the onset of the year, and were often pointed to as one of the NBA’s best young rebuilds. Whatever positive momentum the Hawks had coming into the season seems to have dissipated. A trade for Drummond makes sense if only to keep Young happy and stop the team from losing every night.
- The Hawks have a ton of cap space this summer. Atlanta could have enough cap space to sign two max free agents come summer. The Hawks only have $33 million on the books for next season. The only problem is that the free agent class in 2020 looks particularly weak. Drummond would be arguably the top free agent on the market assuming Anthony Davis stays in Los Angeles. DeMar DeRozan, Otto Porter, Paul Millsap and Marc Gasol are some other notable possible free agents.
- Atlanta is starting to come antsy. Young hasn’t been happy about the Hawks’ lack of progress. Neither has general manager Travis Schenck or ownership. Even though Atlanta is one of the youngest teams in the NBA, it sure seems like all of the top people in the organization are losing patience.
What could the Pistons get for Drummond?
Detroit has a number of big contracts they could use to match Drummond’s salary in a trade. The Hawks would be happy to part Chandler Parsons, who has an expiring $25 million deal. Atlanta also has expiring deals in Evan Turner and Allen Crabbe, who both make about $18.5 million.
Would the Hawks deal their excess first-round pick, that originally belonged to the Nets? Brooklyn’s pick is lottery protected the next three years. Perhaps Atlanta thinks a mid-first rounder and some salary filler is a fine exchange for Drummond, even if trading a first rounder for a veteran set to be a free agent is rarely how rebuilding teams operate.
Does this deal make sense?
Atlanta would likely best be served to hold onto Brooklyn’s first-round pick. If Atlanta really wants Drummond, and he’s going to opt out of his contract at year’s end, why not just sign him as a free agent for the cost of nothing but money and cap space?
Detroit, meanwhile, should be happy with that selection in exchange for Drummond if he really isn’t in the team’s future plans.
Still, this deal passes the sniff test to us. We’ll see if it happens.