Andre Drummond

Knicks Notes: Rivers, Drummond, Schedule, Porzingis

Veteran guard Austin Rivers was excited to join the Knicks as a free agent back in November, but his first year in New York hasn’t played out as he envisioned so far. After getting a late start to the season due to a groin injury, Rivers has now fallen out of the rotation entirely following the acquisition of Derrick Rose.

Rivers, who said he heard rumors even before the season that the Knicks could eventually trade for Rose, referred to his situation as “tough.” But with the team outperforming preseason expectations, he’s focused on staying positive — even if his own future remains unclear as the trade deadline approaches.

“As long as I’m here, I’m here,” Rivers said, per Marc Berman of The New York Post. “I can’t control if I’m traded today, tomorrow or the next day. What I can control is how I am as a player and what I can bring to this team every day. That’s being ready at all times no matter if my name is called or not and to help the young, young guys be ready to play. I’ll just continue to be ready to play here as long as I’m here, for however long.”

Here’s more on the Knicks:

  • The Knicks are “analyzing” whether to attempt to trade for Cavaliers center Andre Drummond, a source tells Marc Berman of The New York Post. Drummond’s $28.75MM salary diminishes his value as a trade chip, but the Knicks still have approximately $15MM in cap room and wouldn’t have to match the big man’s full salary. Berman adds that the Cavs’ asking price is believed to be modest, which makes sense, since the club only gave up a second-round pick and expiring contracts for him a year ago.
  • Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic explores how the Knicks’ second-half schedule will affect their chase for a playoff spot, noting that weathering the six games at the start of the second half will be crucial, since they could help determine the team’s approach to the trade deadline. That six-game stretch includes games against Brooklyn, Milwaukee, and Philadelphia (twice).
  • In a separate story of The Athletic, Vorkunov and Tim Cato revisit the Kristaps Porzingis trade, which the Knicks and Mavericks made in January 2019. According to Cato, Dallas still feels strongly that it won the deal, especially given the way Tim Hardaway Jr. has played over the last two years. However, Vorkunov suggests it hasn’t been a total disaster for New York, given Porzingis’ ongoing injury issues and his up-and-down play, plus the fact that the Knicks could still make good use of the two first-round picks they’re owed.

Cuban Denies Mavs Gauging Trade Market For Porzingis

The Mavericks have “quietly gauged” the potential trade market for Kristaps Porzingis as they continue to evaluate whether he can be the team’s second star behind Luka Doncic, league sources tell Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report.

“They’ve kicked the tires on everybody on their roster that’s not named Luka,” a person with knowledge of the situation told Fischer. “You know (president of basketball operations) Donnie (Nelson); they’re always tinkering.”

Mavs owner Mark Cuban disputed the report, telling Tim Cato of The Athletic that his club has “not discussed (Porzingis) with anyone.” However, Ian Begley of SNY.tv backs up Fischer’s reporting, citing sources who say Dallas reached out to the Warriors to gauge their interest in the big man.

As Fischer explains, Porzingis’ ever-growing injury history and his struggles on defense are possible concerns for the Mavericks. Still, it sounds like if Dallas is discussing Porzingis at all, it’s more about the team doing its due diligence or considering hypothetical scenarios than actually looking to move on from the 25-year-old. Cato says it’s “incredibly unlikely” the former No. 4 overall pick will be traded this season or in the summer.

According to Fischer, the Mavericks are believed to be more interested adding a center who can complement Porzingis in the frontcourt, such as perhaps Andre Drummond. Dallas would like a big man with “physicality, rebounding, (and) toughness,” one source tells Bleacher Report.

While it’s not clear if Hawks big man John Collins will be a pre-deadline trade target for the Mavs, league sources believe the team would make a “significant offer” to him if he reaches restricted free agency in the offseason, per Fischer.

Dallas has also explored the trade market for additional shooting and perimeter defense, according to Fischer, who adds that the Mavs appear to have been one of the more active teams in the early stages of trade conversations around the league.

Porzingis’ injury issues and his defensive shortcomings have prevented him taking a major step toward stardom since arriving in Dallas, and he owns the most expensive contract on the Mavs’ books, with three years and $101MM+ left on his deal after this season. However, that contract isn’t interfering with Dallas’ ability to upgrade the roster, as the club still projects to have a significant chunk of cap room available in the summer of 2021.

Central Notes: Drummond, Love, Merrill, LaVine

With veteran Cavaliers center Andre Drummond now benched for the express purpose of being preserved for a trade, Sam Vecenie of The Athletic examines his possible on-court value and most likely trade or buyout destinations.

“If [you] had a bad center situation, I understand going after him,” a rival executive opined. “But I wouldn’t give up anything real [in a trade].” The Raptors are cited as being able to theoretically construct a workable deal for Drummond. Clubs like the Nets, Clippers, Lakers, Trail Blazers, Mavericks and Rockets could be open to adding Drummond if he’s bought out of his $28.7MM contract.

There’s more out of the Central Division:

  • Cavaliers power forward Kevin Love practiced with Cleveland on Wednesday, per Kelsey Russo of The Athletic (Twitter link). Russo tweets that Love did not practice with the club on Saturday, though head coach J.B. Bickerstaff would not officially term his absence a setback. “I’ll let our medical staff handle that,” Bickerstaff said. Love has appeared in just two games for Cleveland thus far this season.
  • Rookie Bucks guard Sam Merrill has been recalled from a stint with the Memphis Hustle in the G League bubble, the team announced Friday. Merrill is averaging 6.1 MPG across nine games for Milwaukee.
  • Bulls shooting guard Zach LaVine appears to be cementing his case for his first All-Star berth with efficient scoring on a near-.500 Chicago squad that is currently the No. 9 seed in the East. LaVine’s play could put him in line for a lucrative contract extension this summer, writes Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times. “I try to let my game speak for itself,’’ LaVine said. “I let [the press] assess that and put the numbers behind it on the things I’ve done versus my contract and other players.” LaVine is averaging 28.9 PPG while shooting 51.8% from the floor and 42.9% from deep. He pulling down 5.4 RPG and dishing out 5.1 APG.

Southeast Notes: Magic, Hornets, Drummond, All-Star Game

While the Magic‘s roster has been decimated by injuries this season, no pre-deadline fire sale appears imminent. League sources tell ESPN’s Zach Lowe that Orlando has been “projecting patience and optimism” about bringing their core players back next season, with Jonathan Isaac and Markelle Fultz due back from major knee injuries.

That doesn’t necessarily mean the Magic will stand pat entirely at this season’s deadline. Lowe suggests that the team might be open to a deal involving Evan Fournier, whose contract will expire this summer, but he stresses that’s just his speculation.

Here’s more from around the Southeast:

  • In an effort to find a logical landing spot for Cavaliers center Andre Drummond, Sam Vecenie of The Athletic says the Hornets make sense as a potential trade partner for Cleveland. Drummond’s $28.7MM salary is tricky to match, but Charlotte could get most of the way there by using Cody Zeller‘s expiring $15.4MM contract, according to Vecenie, who notes that adding Malik Monk‘s and Bismack Biyombo‘s expiring deals would result in enough outgoing salary.
  • After having a pair of games postponed due to COVID-19 contact tracing and having been unable to conduct more than individual workouts this week, the Hornets anticipate being cleared to practice by late Friday afternoon, tweets Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer. For now, the Hornets’ Saturday game vs. Golden State remains on the schedule as planned.
  • In explaining how the Hawks ended up hosting this year’s All-Star Game, team CEO Steve Koonin pointed to Turner Sports as a driving force behind the decision. “TNT has the All-Star game, it’s one of their marquee events, and by doing it in Atlanta, this allows Turner to not have to travel hundreds of people to another site,” Koonin explained, per Sarah K. Spencer of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “So there wasn’t a competition, there wasn’t an application process, there wasn’t a bid process, this was literally select by the NBA, Turner, and then asked if our building was available, which of course we’re going to make available to our partners.”

Atlantic Notes: VanVleet, Nets, Drummond, Flynn

In the absence of injured veteran point guard Kyle Lowry, Raptors guard Fred VanVleet has provided Toronto a glimpse of the next era of its core leadership, per Dave Feschuk of The Toronto Star. The 34-year-old Lowry has served as the longtime emotional center driving Toronto. He will be an unrestricted free agent when the season ends. The Raptors have posted an encouraging 16-2 record without Lowry over the past two seasons.

VanVleet has averaged 22.0 PPG and 7.1 APG across 15 Raptors games without Lowry during the 2019/20 and 2020/21 seasons, Feschuk goes on to note.

“Any time a guy goes down, it’s that next-man-up mentality that we have always had around here and something that I have tried to continue to do is just increase my level of play when he’s out,” VanVleet said of adjusting to the absence of his current Raptors backcourt mate. “I thought the entire team just picked it up a notch when he went down and that’s what you like to see.”

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division:

  • A strained left hamstring will continue to sideline Nets All-Star forward Kevin Durant as Brooklyn takes on the Lakers in a TNT bout tonight, according to Brian Lewis of the New York Post. Marc Stein of the New York Times tweets that the other injured Nets All-Star, guard Kyrie Irving, will be returning to action for Brooklyn tonight. Irving missed the Nets’ latest game, a 128-124 thriller against the Suns on Tuesday night, due to a lower back injury.
  • Now that the Cavaliers have established they are officially benching center Andre Drummond ahead of a trade or possible buyout, the Knicks should consider adding the big man to their ranks via trade, argues Marc Berman of the New York Post. Berman notes that New York considered trading for Drummond last season before he was ultimately shipped to Cleveland by the Pistons.
  • The Raptors are recalling rookie point guard Malachi Flynn from their G League affiliate, Raptors 905, per Blake Murphy of The Athletic (via Twitter). Murphy adds that Flynn is available to play for the club tonight (Twitter link) in its current contest against the Bucks.

Atlantic Notes: Raptors, Anunoby, Knicks, Pelle, T. Johnson

Failing to retain at least one of Serge Ibaka or Marc Gasol during the 2020 offseason is turning out to be a “rare misplay” by the Raptors‘ front office, according to Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca. As Grange points out, Toronto has been one of the NBA’s worst defensive rebounding teams, and the overall team defense has slipped to the middle of the pack after ranking within the top five in each of the last two years.

League sources tell Grange that the Raptors don’t actually have much interest in pursuing Cavaliers center Andre Drummond, but he acknowledges that it makes sense that Drummond was linked to Toronto, given the team’s deficiencies in the middle and on the glass.

As Grange writes, the Raptors will face some tough decisions in the coming weeks and months as they try to determine how to address the center position and figure out whether Kyle Lowry and Norman Powell, who are both eligible for free agency at season’s end, will be a part of their future.

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • Raptors forward OG Anunoby, who returned on Tuesday after missing 10 games with a calf strain, showed why the team was willing to lock him up to a lucrative long-term extension prior to the season, making an impact on both ends of the court in the team’s win over Milwaukee, writes Blake Murphy of The Athletic. Interestingly, Anunoby replaced Aron Baynes – not Powell – in the starting lineup as Toronto opted for a small starting lineup with Anunoby and Pascal Siakam at the four and five.
  • With center Mitchell Robinson on the shelf, the Knicks have had internal talks about big man Norvel Pelle, according to Marc Berman of The New York Post. However, New York has a full roster and would have to waive a player to make room for someone like Pelle, who will be a free agent on Thursday if he clears waivers after being cut by Brooklyn.
  • Tyler Johnson appeared in only seven of the Nets‘ first 24 games, logging over seven minutes in just one of them. However, he has reclaimed a rotation role in the team’s star-studded backcourt as of late, averaging 8.3 PPG on .486/.480/1.000 shooting in Brooklyn’s last six games (19.3 MPG). “I just love him as a person and a player, his competitive spirit is outstanding,” head coach Steve Nash said of Johnson, per Brian Lewis of The New York Post. “He’s been making some shots as well, and he’s very capable offensively, of course. But just that competitive nature I think is really important for our group.”

Knicks Notes: Randle, Ntilikina, Collins, Drummond, Robinson

Julius Randle is in the midst of his best season since entering the NBA, punctuating that point on Monday as he led the Knicks to a win over the Hawks by pouring in 44 points to go along with nine rebounds and five assists. After the game, Randle’s teammates made it clear that they believe he deserves All-Star recognition for his performance this season.

“It’s hard not to put him in the game,” RJ Barrett said, according to Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic. “What else does he have to do? The man is an All-Star.”

So far this season, Randle is averaging career highs in points per game (23.1), rebounds (11.0), assists (5.6), and three-point percentage (40.6%), among other categories. And while he has posted strong box-score numbers in the past, this version of Randle is making a greater “impact on winning,” according to head coach Tom Thibodeau.

“I think he’s making other people better,” Thibodeau said. “He’s played an all-around game. Strong on both sides of the ball. He’s played an unselfish game. He’s doing it in a number of different ways. Playing multiple positions. He’s a point forward, he’s a forward, he’s a center. He’s doing it all. The most important thing is the impact he’s having on winning. Hopefully it’ll be recognized.”

Here’s more on the Knicks:

  • After missing the last week due to the NBA’s coronavirus contact tracing protocols, Frank Ntilikina has been cleared and is expected to join the Knicks for Wednesday’s game in Orlando, tweets Vorkunov.
  • The Knicks have yet to inquire on John Collins, according to Marc Berman of The New York Post, who says NBA executives believe the Hawks are unlikely to trade the big man unless they receive a “whopping” offer.
  • Cavaliers center Andre Drummond, who is expected to be traded in the coming weeks, would consider the Knicks a “good landing spot,” Berman writes in the same story.
  • A weekend report from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski indicated that Mitchell Robinson would undergo surgery on his fractured right hand, but the injured center is getting one more consultation on Tuesday before making a final decision on that procedure, says Berman.

Community Shootaround: Griffin, Drummond

Just two years ago, Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond were the stars on a Pistons team that made the playoffs.

Griffin carried Detroit that season, averaging 24.5 PPG, 7.5 RPG and 5.4 APG, while his frontcourt partner averaged 17.3 PPG and a league-best 15.6 RPG.

Their careers remain on a parallel course but in a different way – both players have mutually agreed with their teams to sit out until a trade or a buyout can be arranged.

Griffin’s presence on the roster became an awkward situation for the Pistons, who are in full rebuild mode. Ideally, they’ll find a playoff contender willing to take Griffin off their hands. It will be an extremely tough sell, considering Griffin has lost his explosion after multiple knee surgeries and his max contract runs through next season, including a $39MM player option.

Most likely, the Pistons and Griffin will agree to a buyout and allow Griffin to hook onto a team that needs help at power forward.

Detroit practically gave Drummond away to the Cavaliers last season, rather than risk having him opt it and hamstring its rebuilding efforts.

Drummond will be headed to unrestricted free agency this offseason, making him somewhat easier to trade than Griffin.

When Cleveland acquired Jarrett Allen in the James Harden multi-team blockbuster, the four-time rebounding champion became a very expendable part. The key will be matching up salaries comparable to the $28.75MM that Drummond is making this season.

That brings us to our topic of the day: Where do you think Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond will wind up playing the remainder of the season?

Please take to the comments section to weigh in. We look forward to your input.

Cavs Notes: Drummond, Trade Partners, Defense, Love

The Cavaliers would prefer not to take bad contracts with multiple years remaining in a potential Andre Drummond deal. However, they’re open-minded to that possibility if an asset is included that would justify a restricted future cap, Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports. The front office would otherwise like to protect cap space with extensions for Collin Sexton and Jarrett Allen on the horizon.

Cleveland has received calls on Drummond, as well as Allen and JaVale McGee, but it is not interested in dealing Allen. Fedor explores potential trade partners for Drummond and what those deals could include.

We have more on the Cavaliers:

  • Spencer Davies of Basketball News also speculates where Drummond, an impending unrestricted free agent after the season, could be dealt. The Raptors, Mavericks, Knicks and Kings could be among the teams in the mix if a trade is completed, while the Nets would be the front-runner if Drummond winds up on the buyout market.
  • Drummond didn’t play on Sunday, but that didn’t solve any problems as the Cavaliers lost for the ninth time in 10 games. They were overwhelmed by a Clippers team playing without stars Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, demonstrating that the team’s issues go far deeper than Drummond, Fedor writes. The Cavs’ overall effort has been lacking, especially at the defensive end. “I think defensively we need to be better,” Cedi Osman said. “I mean, it’s just not enough, especially against these types of teams. We have to play harder.”
  • Kevin Love has been making progress from the right calf strain that has kept him out since December 27 and coach J.B. Bickerstaff said the team could desperately use his veteran presence and scoring prowess, Fedor notes in a separate story. “There’s times in games when you can see ‘This is where Kevin would help us’ or ‘This is where he would help settle us in. I know right now he’d get a foul because we’re in the bonus.’ There’s those moments where you see,” Bickerstaff said.

Cavs Plan To Sit Andre Drummond As They Pursue Trade

The Cavaliers are planning to keep Andre Drummond on the bench as they work on finding a trade destination for the veteran center, according to Adrian Wojnarowsi and Brian Windorst of ESPN. As ESPN’s duo explains, Jarrett Allen is considered the Cavs’ center of the future and the team believes it’s unfair to Drummond to limit his minutes as the transition to Allen takes place.

According to Wojnarowski and Windhorst, general manager Koby Altman discussed the decision with Drummond and his agent, Jeff Schwartz of Excel Sports. While Schwartz wouldn’t confirm or deny ESPN’s report, he offered the following statement:

“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.”

Drummond was ruled out of Sunday’s game for “rest” purposes, but sources told Shams Charania of The Athletic that the center sat on Sunday in part due to his recent “attitude and play.” Charania adds that head coach J.B. Bickerstaff has had multiple sit-down discussions with the 27-year-old, who has been frustrated by the Cavaliers’ recent slump.

According to Charania, the Raptors and Cavs are engaging in trade discussions about Drummond. However, a deal could take a while to come together as Toronto and Cleveland navigate through cap-related challenges and the possibility of incorporating other teams, so nothing is imminent.

Wojnarowski tweets that, while Cleveland is gauging the Drummond market, there are no “serious” ongoing talks taking place. Addressing the Raptors possibility specifically, Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca confirms (via Twitter) that Toronto has interest, but says discussions have only been exploratory and notes that matching Drummond’s $28.75MM salary would be difficult.

Other teams, including the Nets and Mavericks, would have interest in Drummond if he’s bought out, sources tell The Athletic. It’s unclear how many clubs besides Toronto would be interested in pursuing the big man via trade.

Cleveland’s obvious preference would be to avoid a buyout, especially since the team remains in the hunt for an Eastern Conference playoff spot and wouldn’t want to essentially hand Drummond to a conference rival for nothing, Charania writes. No buyout discussions have taken place to this point, sources tell ESPN.

Meanwhile, Drummond may not be the only Cavs center who is traded prior to the March 25 deadline. Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com reports that the club has received trade offers for all of its centers, though only Drummond and JaVale McGee are considered available — Allen isn’t going anywhere.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.