Andre Drummond

Central Notes: Giannis, Bucks, Holiday, Sabonis, Drummond

Asked during an interview on the Greek channel COSMOTE TV about the perception that he wants to win a title without teaming up with any other superstars, Giannis Antetokounmpo clarified that he’d be happy to be part of a roster stacked with star players — if those star players want to come to the Bucks.

“If LeBron (James) and Kevin Durant and Anthony Davis came to Milwaukee, I would have been good with that,” Antetokounmpo said, per Aris Barkas of Eurohoops.net. “I am not (concerned about whether) I am the top, second or third name, OK? Because I want to win.

“… For sure when I was 18 or 19 years old, maybe I didn’t understand what you need to do to win. But right now, I am 25 and I want to win because when I retire, that’s what people will remember. And if I got LeBron, KD, Davis, if all those came, I wouldn’t mind at all. I don’t care if I am the top (player) on the team.”

While Giannis’ comments may fuel speculation about the possibility of him joining the Lakers or another club, it’s worth reiterating that he spoke only about star players coming to Milwaukee to join him. Bucks fans should take some solace in that as Antetokounmpo continues to weigh whether or not to sign a five-year, super-max extension with the franchise.

Here’s more from around the Central:

  • In an episode of The Athletic NBA Show, Sam Amick of The Athletic suggested that the Bucks‘ trade for Jrue Holiday had an impact on the team’s pursuit of Bogdan Bogdanovic, since it reduced the swingman’s projected role and may have affected how much the team could comfortably offer Bogdanovic in free agency. Dan Feldman of NBC Sports has the details.
  • Speaking on Wednesday to reporters, including Brendan Rourke of Pacers.com, newly re-signed Pacers guard Justin Holiday explained why he “hates” free agency. “I feel like I’m one of the guys, for whatever reason, I’m not ever really respected as far as how much you get paid,” Holiday said. However, he added that he likes the Pacers organization and the city of Indianapolis and he’s happy to have signed a multiyear deal to remain in Indiana for the foreseeable future.
  • Pacers big man Domantas Sabonis believes that the left foot injury that sidelined him during the NBA’s restart is behind him, as J. Michael of The Indianapolis Star details.
  • In his first media session of the season this week, Cavaliers center Andre Drummond said his plan “was always to come back to Cleveland,” writes Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. There was never any real doubt that Drummond would turn down his $28.75MM option for 2020/21, but he said he’s also looking forward to providing guidance to a young roster. “Being here in Cleveland, the opportunities are endless here and I can do great things,” Drummond said.

Trade Rumors: Celtics, Hayward, Kings, Magic, Fournier, More

The Celtics continue to search for potential pathways to get into the top three of tonight’s NBA draft, league sources tell Marc Stein of The New York Times (Twitter link). An earlier report suggested the C’s haven’t had much luck gaining traction on a move into the mid-lottery using their current three first-round picks (Nos. 14, 26, and 30).

It’s unclear if a potential deal involving Gordon Hayward would provide a path for the Celtics to move up in the draft. Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe (Twitter link) hears that the team is “mostly in a holding pattern” with Hayward for the time being.

Following up on a Tuesday report which indicated that the Hawks are eyeing Hayward, Jared Weiss of The Athletic cites a person familiar with the forward’s thinking who says Hayward wants to be a core part of a winning team and may not be interested in a move to Atlanta. Weiss wonders if the report linking Hayward to the Hawks may have been leaked to increase the 30-year-old’s leverage as he weighs his player option decision.

Meanwhile, in his latest Hoop Collective podcast, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst theorized that the Cavaliers, who hold the No. 5 pick, could be a landing spot for Hayward. Cleveland has interest in Hayward, according to Windhorst, who speculated that the Cavs and Celtics could be open to a deal that involves Andre Drummond and a draft-pick swap. Of course, if Hayward is prioritizing playing for a contender, he may try to angle to avoid a move to Cleveland.

Here are a few more trade-related notes and rumors, with the draft around the corner:

  • Also in Windhorst’s latest Hoop Collective podcast, he and colleague Zach Lowe identified the Kings and Magic as two teams that may be looking to get a little younger this offseason rather than being content with competing again for the No. 8 seed. Nemanja Bjelica was identified by Lowe as a possible trade candidate to watch in Sacramento, while Windhorst added that Orlando would likely be open to moving Evan Fournier.
  • Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News (Twitter link) wouldn’t be surprised if the Mavericks renew their interest in shooting guard Danny Green, who is being sent to Oklahoma City in a deal for Dennis Schröder. Dallas attempted to sign Green in free agency a year ago, and the rebuilding Thunder are unlikely to be too attached to him.
  • Although the Nuggets had interest in acquiring Jrue Holiday, they were surprised by what it cost Milwaukee to land him and didn’t feel pressure to make as significant an offer as the Bucks did, as Mike Singer of The Denver Post explains.

Cavs’ Andre Drummond To Exercise Player Option

Cavaliers center Andre Drummond will pick up his player option for 2020/21 to remain with the team rather than becoming a free agent, reports Marc Stein of The New York Times (via Twitter).

By exercising that option, Drummond will lock in his $28,751,774 salary for next season, a figure he was extremely unlikely to match or exceed on the open market. His deal will now expire in 2021, at which point he’ll become an unrestricted free agent. The opt-in also ensures the Cavs will operate as an over-the-cap team this fall, barring a major cost-cutting move.

Drummond, 27, was his usual reliable self in 2019/20, averaging 17.7 PPG to go along with a league-high 15.2 RPG in 57 games (33.0 MPG). It was the third consecutive season – and fourth in the last five – that he has led the NBA in rebounding. The big man also filled up the box score with 2.7 APG, 1.9 SPG, and 1.6 BPG.

Having spent the first seven-and-a-half years of his professional career in Detroit, Drummond was traded to Cleveland at last season’s deadline by the Pistons, who had shifted to rebuilding mode and wanted to open up cap space for this offseason. The expectation at the time of the trade was that Drummond would be opting in.

The Cavs had hoped to get a longer look down the stretch at how their frontcourt – which also features Kevin Love, Tristan Thompson, and Larry Nance Jr. – meshed, but Drummond only appeared in eight games before the season went on hiatus as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. It remains to be seen how many of those big men will be back in Cleveland this season, as Thompson is a free agent and Drummond, Love, and Nance are all potential trade candidates.

For now though, it’s safe to assume Drummond will start the season as the Cavs’ starting center.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Cavs Rumors: Thompson, Free Agents, Drummond, No. 5 Pick

The Cavaliers would like to re-sign Tristan Thompson at the right price, but so far, discussions between the two sides have “centered on a number lower than Thompson would want,” according to Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. Thompson had an $18.5MM salary in 2019/20 and presumably won’t want to see that number decrease too significantly going forward. However, that may simply be the veteran’s reality now, Fedor writes.

As Fedor points out, John Hollinger of The Athletic and ESPN’s Brian Windhorst have both recently suggested that Thompson may be no more than a minimum-salary free agent. It sounds like the Cavs will offer him more than that, so the big man may have to decide whether he wants to stay in Cleveland at that higher number or compete for a title elsewhere on a more modest deal. He appears unlikely to get a sizeable offer from a contender, Fedor notes.

If Thompson doesn’t re-sign with the Cavaliers, the team will probably have to dedicate a portion of its mid-level exception to signing a center. Fedor identifies Harry Giles, Aron Baynes, Thon Maker, and Nerlens Noel as some free agents who could be possibilities for Cleveland.

Here’s more from Fedor on the Cavs:

  • Sources tell Fedor that the Cavaliers were hoping to pursue Jerami Grant in free agency, but now expect him to be out of their price range. The team still aims to add athletic, defensive-minded players — Derrick Jones, Maurice Harkless, Kris Dunn, and Pat Connaughton are a few of the potential targets singled out by Fedor.
  • If and when Andre Drummond officially opts in for 2020/21, it’s possible the Cavaliers will view him and his expiring contract as a potential trade chip. However, Fedor’s sources believe Cleveland would have a better chance of moving Drummond at the trade deadline rather than in the offseason, so it sounds like the veteran center will spend at least part of the season in Cleveland.
  • Multiple members of Cleveland’s front office like Tyrese Haliburton, but after using their previous two lottery picks on guards, the Cavs seem unlikely to opt for Haliburton over an “equally-talented” prospect who fills a greater need. Fedor believes Deni Avdija, Onyeka Okongwu, Isaac Okoro, and Obi Toppin are – in no particular order – the best bets to be the Cavs’ pick at No. 5.

J.B. Bickerstaff: Cavaliers Planning To Have Andre Drummond

There’s a lot of speculation about Andre Drummond‘s future in Cleveland, but Cavaliers coach J.B. Bickerstaff told Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com that the team is “planning for the future with him.” Drummond is expected to pick up his $28.7MM option for next season, which may cause the Cavs to look at trade possibilities before he becomes an unrestricted free agent next summer.

Bickerstaff and Drummond didn’t get much time to know each other before the league went on hiatus. Bickerstaff moved into the head coaching role in mid-February and led the team to a 5-6 record in 11 games. Drummond was acquired from the Pistons at the trade deadline and appeared in just eight games before the shutdown. Bickerstaff emphasized that he hasn’t talked directly to Drummond about his plans, but he is preparing to have the center on the roster when training camp begins.

“I have not asked him, ‘Hey man, are you opting in or opting out?’ But the conversations we’ve had have been positive,” Bickerstaff said. “Indirectly those conversations have been about the future, what next year is going to look like, how he wants to be part of the team and how we can use him effectively and all those things. He’s going to make his choice known whenever he’s going to make his choice known. I know he’s made public comments. We’ve had no conversations about him not being here and we’ve been planning for the future with him.

Bickerstaff touched on numerous topics with Fedor, including:

Preparing for the start of next season:

  • “The plan is kind of up in the air, but when you think of our guys we want them living with a baseline, whether it’s conditioning, skill workout, playing 5-on-5. We need a date so that we know when we are going to ramp up, but we also can’t get so far in a hole that we can’t get there safely because we don’t want injuries and those types of things to happen. For us, the most important thing is continuing to build that chemistry and the conversations we have and the moments we have, that’s just as important for us, if not more, than a rep on the court. We want to build a group of guys who are willing to sacrifice for one another, who care enough about each other that they can put personal things to the side in order to build what’s best for the team.”

The restrictions placed on the eight teams that didn’t play in Orlando:

  • “We would love to just play 1-on-1 sometimes with our guys. We would love to have Larry Nance Jr. guard Darius Garland or have Collin Sexton guard Kevin Love. We would love to be able to do those things. But we can’t because of safety. And we understand 100 percent. But we would still love to be able to do these things and we think that helps in development. How can Collin and Kevin develop a relationship or chemistry in the pick and roll if they aren’t allowed to be on the same court as one another?”

The difficulty of preparing for the draft without in-person workouts:

  • “Let’s say a guy plays in a smaller conference and he’s 6-7 but he looks 6-11, how big is he? How thick is he? How fast does he move? When you’re watching him and he’s working with whoever, can he listen? Whatever the drill that is being explained to him, can he pick that up? Those are all things you can’t necessarily see on tape. You don’t know what coaches are running and you don’t know what defensive schemes are being run or how they’re teaching it. So, to not be able to see that in person has been a disadvantage with all this going on, but hopefully with the league’s rules changing we are going to be able to see more of them if they allow us.”

The quality of this year’s draft:

  • “I think we are going to get a good player. I think there are a lot of guys with talent, with a great foundation, and then it’s a matter of what we do with them, right? Our player development group is second to none. We have guys that can make players of all sizes, skill sets, positions, better. That’s what you are dealt. Then, what do you make of that situation? You can easily say, ‘Oh it’s a weak draft so we expect these guys to fail.’ That’s the wrong approach. There are guys with talent, there are guys who have a high baseline and now it’s our job to make them better. That’s the approach that we are taking.”

Central Notes: Griffin, Wood, Drummond, Bucks

Coming off a down year in which he was limited to just 18 ineffective games due to a knee injury, Pistons forward Blake Griffin is owed $36.8MM in 2020/21, with a player option worth nearly $39MM for ’21/22. As a result of that onerous contract, he’s not expected to be the most popular player on the trade market this offseason.

Still, on his Lowe Post podcast this week, ESPN’s Zach Lowe said that people around the NBA are keeping an eye on Griffin and asking Lowe what he’s hearing about the six-time All-Star. That doesn’t mean that the Pistons will get positive value in a trade for Griffin – or that they’ll move him at all this fall – but Lowe doesn’t believe that clubs have given up on the 31-year-old.

“I’ve had enough teams ask me about Blake Griffin that I think there’s still interest in what he can do to help you win,” Lowe said (hat tip to RealGM).

With Lowe’s comments in mind, James L. Edwards III of The Athletic put together some trade ideas involving Griffin and had his colleague John Hollinger evaluate each hypothetical proposal. Edwards cautions that he doesn’t think the Pistons are particularly eager to trade Griffin, but puts forth a few scenarios involving Golden State, Sacramento, Brooklyn, and Phoenix.

Here’s more from around the Central:

  • Omari Sankofa II of The Detroit Free Press considers the three directions the Pistons could go with Christian Wood‘s free agency, weighing the pros and cons of re-signing Wood, letting him walk, or signing-and-trading him to a new team.
  • In a conversation with Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com, Cavaliers center Andre Drummond said his new team “did a really, really good job” of making him feel comfortable after he was acquired from Detroit in February. Although Drummond talked as if he’s preparing to be with the Cavs next season, he was evasive when repeatedly asked by Fedor about his upcoming player option decision and potential free agency, claiming that he’s “not really thinking about it” yet.
  • With the Bucks expected to be aggressive in seeking roster upgrades this offseason, Eric Nehm of The Athletic assesses a series of trade ideas from his readers, determining which team would balk at each hypothetical proposal.

Celtics Notes: Free Agency, Theis, Green, Drummond

The playoffs showed that the Celtics could use more scoring off their bench, and Jared Weiss of The Athletic has a few suggestions that should fit into Boston’s budget. If Gordon Hayward and Enes Kanter both opt in for next season, the team will be limited to the taxpayer mid-level exception, which should be about $5.7MM.

Weiss’ first choice is Langston Galloway, who averaged 10.3 points per game and shot 39.9% from 3-point range this year with the Pistons. Weiss notes that Galloway also handles the ball well enough to be considered a combo guard and would be a step up from Brad Wanamaker. Two other veteran possibilities he brings up are Orlando’s D.J. Augustin and Atlanta’s Jeff Teague, who may want to wrap up their careers on a team that can compete for a title.

Weiss also throws in point guard Jordan McLaughlin, who played 30 games for the Timberwolves this year after a sensational performance in the G League. However, the 24-year-old is a restricted free agent and Minnesota has expressed a desire to keep him, so the Celtics would likely have to go above his market value to have a chance.

There’s more from Boston:

  • Center Daniel Theis had an arthroscopic procedure on his left knee Tuesday that included removal of a loose body, the team announced on Twitter. The surgery was successful and he is expected to be ready when training camp opens (Twitter link). Theis had surgery on the same knee in 2018, notes Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston (Twitter link).
  • In a full story, Forsberg looks at Carsen Edwards, Javonte Green and Vincent Poirier and examines whether any of them have a future in Boston. Edwards was a second-round pick who is under contract for $1.78MM next season, so he’ll likely return. Green made his NBA debut at age 26 this season after several years of playing overseas, but he has a non-guaranteed contract for 2020/21 that nearly doubles his salary to $1.5MM. Poirier will make $2.6MM next season, and Forsberg expects the Celtics to look for someone to take that salary off their hands to ease their tax situation.
  • The Celtics are monitoring the Andre Drummond situation in Cleveland and could be a potential trade partner if the Cavaliers decide to move him, sources tell Evan Dammarell of Forbes. Drummond is expected to opt into the the final year of his contract at $28.7MM, which would make him a free agent next summer. Dammarell mentions the Clippers and Spurs as other possibilities.

Cavs Notes: Drummond, Garland, Free Agency, Geriot

The Cavaliers and Andre Drummond have shown mutual interest in reaching an extension, but they remain far apart in preliminary discussions, sources tell Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. The Cavs acquired Drummond from the Pistons at the trade deadline to provide insurance in the middle in case they lose Tristan Thompson in free agency. Fedor calls the decision to add Drummond a “trial run” rather than a long-term investment, but management only got to see him in eight games before the lockdown.

Drummond has a $28.7MM player option for next season that he’s almost certain to pick up. Fedor says the Cavaliers are realistic about Drummond’s talent, as well as his limitations, and don’t want to commit to an expensive long-term contract that could prevent the team from improving in other areas. Drummond is asking for a deal that would compensate him for skipping free agency in 2021, when many teams will have cap space available.

The Cavs will likely explore the trade market for Drummond after he officially picks up his option. Sources around the league believe his value will increase around the trade deadline, especially since there would be no financial commitment beyond the upcoming season, Fedor writes. It’s also a chance for Cleveland to get something in return before Drummond hits the open market.

There’s more from Cleveland, all courtesy of Fedor:

  • Darius Garland was a standout during the Cavaliers’ mini-camp and there’s hope that he’s headed in the right direction after a rocky first season. Fedor notes that Garland looked different in camp and seemed to have his confidence back after shooting just 40.1% as a rookie.
  • Cleveland projects to have lots of cap space for 2021, since an expected extension for Collin Sexton won’t hit the cap until 2022, but probably won’t be competitive for the top free agents. Considering the team’s history in free agency and its spot near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, Fedor expects the rebuilding to continue through the draft and the development of young talent.
  • The Cavaliers already have one opening for an assistant that they didn’t fill when J.B. Bickerstaff was promoted to head coach, and they could have another now that Tyronn Lue has become head coach of the Clippers. Fedor cites belief inside the organization that Dan Geriot might go to L.A. to join Lue’s staff.

Cavs Rumors: Draft, Porter, Sexton, Defense, Drummond

The Cavaliers‘ last couple drafts have been fairly guard-heavy, with Collin Sexton joining the team in 2018 and Darius Garland becoming a Cav in 2019. However, general manager Koby Altman suggested today that the club isn’t ruling out the possibility of adding another backcourt piece with the No. 5 pick in this year’s draft, according to Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com.

“We’re going to take the best talent,” Altman said. “We like where we are at — No. 5. We’re going to get a really good player.”

Although Altman’s comments suggest another guard is in play, Fedor believes the club is much more likely to take a wing or a big man.

Sources tell Cleveland.com that the Cavs’ top tier consists of LaMelo Ball, James Wiseman, and Anthony Edwards, in some order. Assuming those three players are off the board at No. 5, Tyrese Haliburton or Killian Hayes would be the best guard available, and the team is unlikely to view either of those players as definitively better than the backcourt options already on the roster, says Fedor.

Here’s more on the Cavaliers:

  • The Cavs are extremely high on 2019 first-rounder Kevin Porter Jr., according to Fedor, who hears that the former USC wing is at “at the top of Cleveland’s young player hierarchy.” The organization has been so averse to the idea of moving Porter that rival teams won’t even ask about him in trade talks anymore, Fedor adds.
  • Cleveland also remains “all-in” on Collin Sexton, viewing him as one of their leaders and hardest-working players, says Fedor.
  • Altman said on Friday that one of the Cavs’ offseason goals is to improve on defense and that the front office is considering how best to do that. “Whether that be adding personnel there, or internally, schematically, we know we need to look ourselves in the mirror and get better on that end,” Altman said, per Fedor. “… It’s not going to happen all at once. We’re not going to go from (30th) in the league to top five, but we need to see steady growth on that side of the ball. And I think the guys realize that and we need to hold them more accountable and do it that way. But ourselves as a front office, does that mean we need better personnel on that side of the ball or different pieces to help some of our guys? We’re looking at (that).”
  • While Andre Drummond isn’t attending the Cavs’ in-market mini-camp due to a personal matter, the club has stayed in frequent contact with him and isn’t concerned about his absence, according to Fedor. Altman said today that he doesn’t know whether Drummond will pick up his 2020/21 player option, though I’d be shocked if he opts out. A source confirmed to Fedor that Drummond is “highly likely” to exercise that $28.75MM option.
  • In case you missed it, Altman also said today that there’s mutual interest in a new deal between the Cavs and Tristan Thompson.

In-Market Bubble Updates: Pistons, Wolves, Cavs

As the NBA’s bottom eight teams gear up to conduct group workouts starting next week, the Pistons have 15 players in attendance for the first phase of their in-market bubble. However, that 15-man group includes five G Leaguers, with a number of notable names from the NBA roster absent.

As Eric Woodyard of ESPN details, head coach Dwane Casey said on Wednesday that Blake Griffin, Derrick Rose, Christian Wood, and Langston Galloway aren’t participating.

“All of our young guys are here. Derrick Rose and Blake are not here, which is totally understandable,” Casey said. “Both are working out, and it’s nothing physical. They’re both 100 percent. Blake’s working out in LA, and Derrick is in and out of town.”

As for Wood and Galloway, both players are set to reach unrestricted free agency this fall, so Casey said he understood why they’d be reluctant to participate in workouts with the club over the next few weeks.

“We’re not reading anything into that either way,” Casey said, per Woodyard. “So it’s just something I totally get because if I’m a free agent, I wouldn’t attend anyway to the team you’re not under contract with.”

Here’s more on those mini-camps taking part in “bubbles” across the country:

  • The majority of the Timberwolves‘ key players, including Karl-Anthony Towns, D’Angelo Russell, and restricted free agent Malik Beasley, are participating in their in-market bubble, as are G Leaguers Canyon Barry and Lindell Wigginton (Twitter link via Woodyard). Free-agent-to-be Evan Turner, Omari Spellman, and Juan Hernangomez won’t be in attendance. Hernangomez is an RFA and is currently overseas, Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic notes (via Twitter), while Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News tweets that Spellman’s camp is hoping to find the big man a new home.
  • Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com provides details on the Cavaliers‘ in-market bubble plans for the next two-and-a-half weeks, with group practices set to begin next Wednesday. Tristan Thompson and Matthew Dellavedova, both eligible for free agency, won’t attend, but G Leaguers Levi Randolph, Marques Bolden and Vince Edwards have been invited to participate.
  • A personal matter will also prevent center Andre Drummond from attending the Cavaliers‘ mini-camp, though he wanted to be there, sources tell Fedor. “He’s been pretty engaged in everything,” one source said of Drummond. “It’s not like he’s gone dark. He wanted to be there. It’s nothing malicious. It’s not a sign or anything like that. It’s not going to cause a rift.”
  • The NBA sent a memo to the league’s bottom eight teams warning them that if they “require or coerce” players to participate in the optional workouts, they’ll be subject to league punishment, tweets Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer.