We knew it was coming and now Andre Drummond has basically made it official. The Cavaliers center has wisely informed the team that he is picking up his $28.7 million player option, Amico Hoops sources confirmed (and first reported by the New York Times).
Anyone who knows the state of the NBA free agency will tell you the move was a no-brainer. Drummond wasnâ€™t going to get near that type of money on the open market. Not this year, when everything is rushed because of the Dec. 22 start to the season, and mostly, Dec. 1 start to training camp.
Furthermore, Drummond is considered sort of a throwback to the days when the NBA was an elbows-out, bodies-banging-in-the-paint type of league. Todayâ€™s game is much more perimeter-oriented.
Thatâ€™s not to downplay Drummondâ€™s value or his importance to the Cavs. The man did average 17.7 points and a league-leading 15.2 rebounds in 57 total games with the Detroit Pistons and Cavs. (Though he appeared in just eight with the Cavs.)
Teams still need big men and Drummond is one of the best.
But there are bigger things at play here, and all of it centers around Drummondâ€™s 6-foot-10, 270-pound frame. Basically, it seems Drummond and the Cavs tried, but couldnâ€™t agree, on any sort of contract extension.
That makes his future in Cleveland very much in doubt. He can be a free agent at the end of the season, free to walk to wherever he chooses, with the Cavs being due no compensation.
Of course, the Cavs will also be able to pay Drummond more than anyone else, should it come to that. But will they want to?
Basically, Cavs general manager Koby Altman is in a bit of a conundrum when it comes to the frontcourt. Drummond is now officially on a one-year deal. Tristan Thompson very well could leave in free agency by the start of next week. And who knows what the Cavs are thinking when it comes to Kevin Love?
Oh, and on top of that, the draft is Wednesday night and the Cavs have the fifth overall pick. So itâ€™s safe to say Altman has a lot on his mind and a lot of big decisions ahead.
One of the biggest will be what to do about Drummond once all the smoke clears and the season actually begins. And there will indeed be options and considerations.
First, the Cavs can just keep Drummond and see how well he fits under coach J.B. Bickerstaff. The Cavs went 5-6 after Bickerstaff took over, and he proved in a short time he can manage personalities and egos.
Drummond is a fun-loving, free spirit, so heâ€™s never a problem. But you have to figure out a way to get the most out of his ability, and Bickerstaff may be the perfect man to do it. Keeping Drummond as a centerpiece while continuing to work on an extension is a possibility.
Another option would be to try to trade Drummond, and you can be sure that is being given careful thought.
With an expiring contract, a lot of teams would have an interest — if not in Drummond the center, then at least a deal that will come off the books at seasonâ€™s end. If the Cavs do end up going that route, itâ€™s unlikely they would get someone of similar talent. A bad contract in return would be more like.
But if a first-round pick is thrown in, and maybe a young player with upside, then the Cavs may be willing to make a deal. Itâ€™s much too early to say with any degree of certainty. Not yet.
All we know is Drummond will again be a member of the team at the start of free agency on Friday. Anything beyond that is still in the exploratory stage.
The Cavs are open to keeping Drummond. Theyâ€™re open to moving him. At this point, it really is up to the rest of the field to determine what happens with Drummond next.