Andre Drummond

And-Ones: Drummond, Gasol, Leonard

Andre Drummond recently spoke about how he was excited for free agency next summer, leading some to speculate that he would like to leave the Pistons. He took to Instagram to clarify his comments.

“My point was I’m excited to go through the process because I never been [through] it, doesn’t mean I’m trying to leave Detroit. I love it here,” the big man said on his social media page.

Drummond has a player option for the 2020/21 season, though he called this upcoming campaign his “contract year,” insinuating that he’s preparing to opt out.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • Marc Gasol doesn’t blame Kawhi Leonard for leaving the Raptors and joining the Clippers in a move that will put Leonard closer to his hometown. “I haven’t talked to him. Just a little through group text — that was it. You can’t blame the guy for wanting to go home. You can’t,” Gasol told Marc Stein of The New York Times in his latest newsletter. “If you tell me I can go back to Barcelona and make an absurd amount of money and play in the NBA — I understand completely the decision and respect it and wish him the best.”
  • In the same piece, Gasol spoke about how he didn’t know that winning a championship would mean as much to him until after the Raptors took home the Larry O’Brien trophy. “It fulfilled me in a way that I didn’t know it could,” Gasol said. “Instantly you gain so much respect for everyone who has done this. Golden State, going to five straight finals and the rings that they have, I just instantly got so much respect for them. And LeBron going to eight finals in a row. Just doing it once put me beyond the limits I thought I had — physically and mentally. It was great to see, for myself, pushing those limits and leaving everything out there. It was awesome.”
  • NBA agent James Dunleavy is joining Excel Sports Management, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Dunleavy’s clients include Chandler Parsons and Gerald Green, among others.

Andre Drummond “Excited” For Free Agency Next Summer

Andre Drummond has two years left on the five-year contract he signed with the Pistons back in 2016. However, his deal contains a player option on the final season—the 2020/21 campaign. Drummond hinted that he would be turning that option down, referring to this upcoming season as his “contract year” (h/t Aaron Ferguson of Piston Powered).

“I’m a free agent next summer,” the big man said while speaking with reporters, adding that he feels free agency should be “fun.”

“I’m excited. I think I’m the only one that has a big contract coming up for the year,” Drummond said.

The 2020 offseason won’t feature as many high-profile free agents as the past few summers. Anthony Davis could ostensibly opt to hit the market via his player option, but it’s likely he stays with the Lakers. Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan, and Otto Porter Jr. are among the most notable players who will be unrestricted free agents.

Query only frontcourt players and the results appear desolate. Hassan Whiteside‘s contract ends after the 2019/20 campaign. The 34-year-old Marc Gasol will be available next summer and Montrezl Harrell and Paul Millsap will be among the other notable bigs on the market. Drummond, who would be turning down roughly $28.8MM to hit the open market, may be the most desirable frontcourt option.

Community Shootaround: Andre Drummond

Unlike the free agent frenzy this summer, next year’s open market will produce precious little drama.

Unless Anthony Davis is serious about testing the waters after the Lakers expended many assets to acquire him, there will be no marquee names on the unrestricted free agent list.

Pistons center Andre Drummond might be the most intriguing and polarizing player on the market.

He can become an unrestricted free agent if he declines his player option of $28.75MM. It might be the ideal time for Drummond to test the waters, considering the lack of star power in next year’s free agent class.

He’s the league premier rebounder, particularly at the offensive end. Despite not developing a 3-point shot — though coach Dwane Casey is willing to give him some chances in the future — Drummond averaged a career-best 17.3 PPG last season.

His free throw shooting is still poor but he’s improved enough to stay on the court in crunch time, going from below 40 percent to around 60 the past two seasons.

He’s adept in pick-and-roll situations and led his team in blocks and steals last season. However, his overall defense often leaves something to be desired.

The Pistons have a dilemma on their hands. They could try to work out an extension with Drummond, who is still only 26 and in the prime of his career.

They could also opt to play things out and perhaps trade him before the deadline if their season goes sour. However, if Drummond has a big year and they hold onto him, they could lose him for nothing next summer and face another long rebuild.

Since Drummond didn’t make an All-NBA team last season, he’s not eligible for the super max. If he wanted a maximum extension, he’d have to decline his player option, then receive a 20 percent raise on his $27MM salary for the upcoming season.

With 8% raises during the ensuing three seasons, Drummond could receive a four-year, $145.65MM extension beginning in 2020/21.

The Pistons have been handcuffed by a bad salary cap situation but beyond Blake Griffin‘s contract, they have few salary commitments after this season and will be in pretty good position to make moves next summer.

That leads us to our question of the day: Should the Pistons offer Andre Drummond an extension? If so, would it be in Drummond’s best interests to accept the offer or should he shop his services in a weak free agent market next summer?

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

FIBA World Cup Notes: Barrett, Drummond, Adebayo

RJ Barrett will not participate in the 2019 FIBA World Cup for Canada due to a mild calf strain, Shams Charania of The Athletic tweets. The most recent No. 3 overall pick will join Team Canada for training camp and team activities in Toronto. Barrett represented his country over the last four summers and helped the squad qualify for the World Cup.

There’s also Team USA news. Here is the latest, via USA Basketball’s website:

Central Notes: Horst, Pistons, Kornet, Holidays

Eric Nehm of The Athletic recently sat down with the Bucks’ award-winning GM Jon Horst to discuss the team’s free agency this summer. Here are a few noteworthy passages from Horst’s interview.

Regarding the team’s ability to bring back Khris Middleton on a five-year deal:

“Khris was always a focus… He’s our second superstar, our second star. He’s an All-Star. He’s been one of our best players for a long period of time here… Khris was a target obviously and he got a contract that represents that and we think it’s a great contract because we got our second All-Star locked up for the next five years.”

Regarding the team’s trade of Tony Snell and a first-round pick for Jon Leuer in order to create the requisite cap space needed to re-sign Brook Lopez:

“When we got Brook last offseason, we understood, at some level, how important he was going to be to us… (and) we also understood if he’s as good as we think he’s going to be, it’s going to present a lot of challenges.”

“So, we spent the entire year trying to prepare for that… Just different things we did throughout the year were in preparation to position ourselves to either be prepared to keep Brook, be in a position to keep Brook or be prepared to react if we couldn’t… I don’t know if a lot of people saw it coming, maybe after the Tony Snell deal. Then, maybe they were like, ‘Okay, this is how they’re going to try to do it.’ But before that, I don’t think people saw the moves we lined up to position ourselves to hopefully keep Brook and I’m very thankful we were able to.”

Regarding the decision to trade RFA Malcolm Brogdon to Indiana and whether the luxury tax was a factor in that decision:

“I think there’s a lot that goes into restricted free agency. It’s a monster. Malcolm is very, very important and we knew how important he was to our team. It will be hard to replace him. I think we’ve done the best that we can and we’ll continue to work in ways to be creative and fill that gap.”

“I would say the luxury tax was only part of the consideration for not matching or not being willing to pay Malcolm the market that he was able to get from Indiana. Whether or not he had that market from anywhere else besides Indiana, I don’t know. The decision on Malcolm was much more about our internal evaluations, the roster fit, the ability to be flexible and have options going forward and just building a team that, as I always say, can sustain success over a long period.”

There’s more from the Central Division this afternoon:
  • Horst confirmed in the above interview that the Bucks were not able to create a traded player exception when they traded Brogdon to Indiana, as the signing of George Hill with cap space occurred after the trade, and teams lose their exceptions (other than the Room MLE) when they go under the cap.
  • Taking a look at what each player’s role may be for the Pistons’ during the 2019/20 season, Keith Langlois of Pistons.com opines that there are five guys locked in to being sure-fire rotation pieces – Blake Griffin, Andre Drummond, Reggie Jackson, Luke Kennard, and Derrick Rose, and three who will almost certainly join that group – Markieff Morris, Tony Snell, and Bruce Brown.
  • The Bulls are hoping that the three-point shooting ability of free-agent addition, big man Luke Kornet, will be a nice complement next to starter Wendell Carter Jr. and fellow reserve, rookie Daniel Gafford, writes Sam Smith of Bulls.com.
  • Pacers’ new addition Justin Holiday is excited about the prospect of playing with his baby brother, reserve point guard Aaron Holiday, reports Scott Agness of The Athletic. “It was the best situation I had at this time,” Justin said. “(T)he Pacers obviously being a contender every year and going to the playoffs, and then also them having my brother was something that was very, very enticing for me. To be able to be a part of that culture and play with my brother, I think it made it pretty simple where I needed to go.”

Eastern Notes: Young, Westbrook, Siakam, Hawks

Thaddeus Young gives the Bulls a much-needed glue guy, Sam Smith of the team’s website writes. Not only does Young fill the stat sheet but he also provides other valuable assets, such as contesting shots, staying in front of his man and forcing opponents to pass late in the shot clock, Smith adds. Young signed a three-year contract with Chicago that could be worth up to $43.6MM. Young will embrace a leadership role, as Sean Highkin of NBC Sports Chicago relays. “I know the task is very, very hard,” the former Pacers big man said. “I carry that weight each and every day. I know I can help these young guys get better, I know I can push them over the hump.”

We have more from around the Central Division:

  • Adding Russell Westbrook would have made the Pistons better in the short term but it wasn’t worth the long-term risk, Keith Langlois of the team’s website opines. The Pistons couldn’t afford to give up future first-rounders and agree to pick swaps as Houston did to acquire Westbrook from Oklahoma City. With Blake Griffin‘s big contract and Andre Drummond holding an option to become a free agent next summer, the Pistons would not have been able to make any more notable future upgrades if they took on Westbrook’s huge contract, Langlois adds.
  • The Raptors might as well offer Pascal Siakam a max four- or five-year extension this summer, Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca argues. Ben Simmons has reportedly received a similar offer from the Sixers, while Jamal Murray has already signed an extension with the Nuggets. Siakam has outperformed both of his peers in many categories, Grange notes. The Raptors also don’t have any salary-cap restraints in future seasons that would prevent them from maxing out Siakam, Grange adds.
  • Rookie of the Year finalist Trae Young and young big John Collins will see an increase in playing time, Hawks GM Travis Schlenk told Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Lottery picks De’Andre Hunter and Cam Reddish will also get thrown into the fire for the rebuilding Hawks. “Last year, Trae and John played about 30 minutes. They are probably going to play 35 minutes this year as they continue to grow,” Schlenk said. “De’Andre is obviously going to play a lot of minutes. Cam, we are going to play a lot.”

Eastern Notes: Pistons, J. Brown, Ujiri, Hawks, Heat

Pistons head of basketball operations Ed Stefanski said this week that he isn’t going into the offseason looking to move any of the team’s three highest-paid players – Blake Griffin, Andre Drummond, and Reggie Jackson – as Rod Beard of The Detroit News details. However, he did admit that he doesn’t have a clear vision yet for what the rest of the Pistons’ offseason will look like.

“The philosophy right now is we have those three and we’re going with them,” Stefanski said. “But I have no idea what (else is) going to happen.”

The Pistons won’t have any cap room available this summer, but they have the No. 15 pick in the draft, the full mid-level exception (worth approximately $9.2MM) and the bi-annual exception ($3.6MM).

While Detroit is expected to try to add a backup center and a wing or two, a source tells Vince Ellis of The Detroit Free Press that the team’s No. 1 priority will be the point guard spot, with Ish Smith and Jose Calderon headed for free agency. For his part, Stefanski acknowledged that both positions will be of interest to the Pistons this offseason.

“I think free agency is where you look more for (immediate help) than the draft,” Stefanski said, per Ellis. “I think everyone hits it right on the head. We don’t know if we’ll be able to sign Ish, so we need a point guard. We don’t have really a starting wing right now.”

Here’s more from around the East:

  • Some teams near the top of the draft are wondering about Jaylen Brown‘s availability, tweets Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe. There has been no indication that the Celtics would make Brown available, but one report indicated that Boston is among the teams that has considered trading for the No. 4 pick. A player like Brown would likely be needed to make that happen.
  • The Raptors would need “significant compensation” to allow president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri to leave the franchise, according to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst (podcast link). The Wizards were rumored to have interest in Toronto’s top executive, but owner Ted Leonsis shot down those reports on Tuesday.
  • Holding three first-round picks and three second-rounders heading into Thursday’s draft, Hawks general manager Travis Schlenk recently said he’s more inclined to package and trade his second-round selections, per Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Twitter link). It wouldn’t surprise me if Atlanta makes deals involving picks from both rounds.
  • The Heat officially hired a replacement for Juwan Howard on Erik Spoelstra‘s staff, announcing in a press release that Malik Allen is the club’s newest assistant coach.
  • With Anthony Davis – and Mike Conley – now off the trade market, it will be interesting to see whether the Wizards eventually reconsider their stance on keeping Bradley Beal, writes Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. As Hughes points out, Beal might be the most sought-after prize on the trade block if Washington makes him available.

Chris Crouse contributed to this post.

Team USA Announces 20-Player Camp Roster For World Cup

USA Basketball has officially announced the group of 20 players that will participate in training camp this summer in advance of the 2019 FIBA World Cup. The camp will take place from August 5-9, and will be used to select the 12-man roster for this year’s World Cup in China.

The 20-man training camp roster is as follows:

  1. Harrison Barnes (Kings)
  2. Bradley Beal (Wizards)
  3. Anthony Davis (Pelicans)
  4. Andre Drummond (Pistons)
  5. Eric Gordon (Rockets)
  6. James Harden (Rockets)
  7. Tobias Harris (Sixers / FA)
  8. Kyle Kuzma (Lakers)
  9. Damian Lillard (Trail Blazers)
  10. Brook Lopez (Bucks / FA)
  11. Kevin Love (Cavaliers)
  12. Kyle Lowry (Raptors)
  13. CJ McCollum (Trail Blazers)
  14. Khris Middleton (Bucks)
  15. Paul Millsap (Nuggets)
  16. Donovan Mitchell (Jazz)
  17. Jayson Tatum (Celtics)
  18. Myles Turner (Pacers)
  19. P.J. Tucker (Rockets)
  20. Kemba Walker (Hornets / FA)

“I am excited about getting to training camp in August and working with all of the players that have been selected to attend the USA National Team training camp in Las Vegas,” Team USA head coach Gregg Popovich said in a statement. “We’ve got an excellent cross-section of veteran USA Basketball and NBA players, as well as some exciting younger players who possess amazing versatility.

“I’m appreciative of commitment that our National Team players continue to make, and the eagerness of the new players to become involved,” Popovich continued. “Selecting a 12-man team will be extremely difficult.”

It will be an eventful summer for many of the players on the 20-man Team USA training camp roster. Besides Harris, Lopez, and Walker, who are all headed for unrestricted free agency and could be on new teams by August, players like Barnes, Middleton, and Millsap could reach the open market if their player or team options are declined. Others – including Davis, Gordon, Kuzma, Tatum, and Tucker – have been mentioned in trade rumors.

Kuzma and Mitchell are the only players on the roster who haven’t played internationally for Team USA in the past. Five player on the roster (Barnes, Davis, Harden, Love, and Lowry) have won gold medals for USA Basketball at the 2012 or 2016 Olympics, while two others (Drummond and Gordon) have taken home gold at previous World Cups.

Previous reports indicated that Zion Williamson, John Collins, and Marvin Bagley are expected to be among the players named to a 10-man select team that will scrimmage with Team USA’s 20-man roster at the training camp in August.

More Names Revealed For Team USA World Cup Tryouts

Team USA’s training camp roster for the FIBA World Cup will be announced next week, but four players have already been confirmed, tweets Marc Stein of The New York Times.

Anthony Davis, James Harden, Donovan Mitchell and Kemba Walker will definitely be part of the team, while the other 14 slots are still being worked out. The roster will be trimmed to 12 when the players gather in Las Vegas in early August to prepare for the tournament, which takes place from August 31 to September 15 in China.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski drops a few more names in a full story on the World Cup tryouts, which sources tell him are also expected to include Damian Lillard, C.J. McCollum, Bradley Beal and Kevin Love. Others planning to be part of the camp include Eric Gordon, Jayson Tatum, Khris Middleton, Brook Lopez, LaMarcus Aldridge, Andre Drummond and Kyle Kuzma.

P.J. Tucker will attend training camp as well, tweets ESPN’s Tim MacMahon, and league sources tell Woj that Paul Millsap also plans to be there. Other names leaked for the camp are Tobias Harris (Twitter link from Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer) and Myles Turner (Twitter link from Scott Agness of the Athletic).

Zion Williamson, expected to be the first pick in the draft later this month, has been invited to camp as part of the 10-man select team that will scrimmage against the 18-man roster, Stein tweets. Williamson will be given a chance to play his way onto the final roster if he has a standout performance in that role, according to USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo (Twitter link).

The select team will also include John Collins and Marvin Bagley, tweets Tim Bomtemps of ESPN.

The camp will be held from August 5-8, with exhibition games to follow before the start of World Cup play. Gregg Popovich will serve as head coach.

Central Notes: Pistons, Adams, Cavaliers, Ham

Per Keith Langlois of Pistons.com, the Pistons should disregard any positional need with the No. 15 overall selection in this year’s draft and simply pick the player whom the team feels with have the biggest impact during his rookie contract.

Langlois provides examples of teams who have had success employing the same strategy, noting the Spurs in 2011 (traded George Hill for Kawhi Leonard when they had Richard Jefferson) and the Bucks in 2013 (shocked the world by drafting Giannis Antetokounmpo while already having John Henson and Ersan Ilyasovsa on the roster) as ideas for the Pistons to emulate.

One would think that the Pistons should look to upgrade their backcourt to complement both Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond, but as Langlois notes, Drummond can opt out of his contract after next season and Griffin is versatile enough to play alongside another power forward.

So who should the Pistons take? For now, ESPN’s Jonathan Givony has Detroit taking Indiana swingman Romeo Langford, his 11th ranked prospect and the top-ranked player left on the board when the Pistons make their selection.

There’s more from the Central Division tonight:

  • In addition to adding Chris Fleming to his staff, Bulls’ head coach Jim Boylen is trying to add one more assistant, per K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune. The top candidate appears to be Texas Tech assistant coach Mark Adams.
  • The Cavaliers were left without an identity for the first time in nearly two decades when homegrown superstar LeBron James left for Los Angeles, but as Ben Golliver of The Washington Post writes, new head coach John Beilein should be able to create a new identity and culture for the franchise.
  • As we relayed yesterday afternoon, Bucks’ assistant coach Darvin Ham has been identified by the Timberwolves as another head coaching candidate under Gersson Rosas and the team’s new front office.