Potential landing spots before deadline
A Drummond trade is the target for Cleveland with the former Piston sitting out until his future is decided. The Cavs acquired Jarrett Allen earlier in the season and face a frontcourt logjam. After a strong start to the year, Drummond’s desire to leave became apparent. It’s very unlikely the former All-Star is still a Cav by the end of the season.
Trading Drummond isn’t straight forward. His near-$30 million salary is problematic. Like his former teammate Blake Griffin, a buyout could be how this relationship ends, but Cleveland will explore all possible trades before settling for no return.
On an expiring contract, Drummond is only a rental for any possible suitors. Even contending teams with other expiring deals will find it tough to match that massive salary without weakening another part of their roster. With a lot of cap space floating around this summer, assuming Drummond will re-sign in free agency is a risky business for any front office considering a trade.
This is before reaching the elephant in the room. Drummond is ultimately a very limited player. He is still an elite rebounder with good athleticism, but he’s not a great defender, and he is yet to prove he can be a reliable impactful offensive player.
The best version of Drummond ditches the post-ups. He stops trying to extend his range. Potential suitors will like a Drummond trade for a rim-running center who can block shots. There are teams who need a player like that, and a handful of them can try and put together the necessary salary.
Potential Drummond trade destinations
The Washington Wizards are resurgent after an awful start. Moe Wagner is playing big frontcourt minutes, though, and while they have been winning games, an upgrade would be welcome. A deal could be built with Ish Smith, Robin Lopez and Thomas Bryant as the core salaries. A bit of filler would be enough to make the deal work.
Giving up Bryant, although injured, is a big call for Washington. When healthy, he’s been a good player for them. He’s also not someone the Cavs will be all that interested in, so it might get complicated with a three-team pact.
A team often linked with Drummond, the Dallas Mavericks have salaries to try and figure out a deal. Boban Marjanovic and James Johnson can be the foundation of the package, potentially with Willie Cauley-Stein topping up the salaries. It depletes their frontcourt, but in Dwight Powell, Maxi Kleber and Kristaps Porzingis, the Mavs would have plenty left to fill minutes at the four and five.
Any potential Drummond trade probably needs a pick or two included, likely future seconds. Dallas might be tempted to do so, particularly having climbed above .500. The peak version of Drummond as a roll man with Luka Doncic could be a serious force, though he’s unlikely to fix their defense.
Perhaps the most straight forward trade would be to send Drummond to the San Antonio Spurs for LaMarcus Aldridge. While Washington and Dallas have an obvious need, it’s trickier to justify this for the Spurs. Jakob Poeltl is doing a good job at the five. He just signed an extension – would there be any desire to keep Drummond long-term?
Still, though, Aldridge isn’t providing much value at this point. Drummond would, at the very least, give the Spurs another big body to throw at Anthony Davis, Nikola Jokic or Rudy Gobert in a potential playoff series.