Report: Raptors target Andre Drummond

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MIAMI, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 22: Andre Drummond #3 of the Cleveland Cavaliers reacts against the Miami Heat during the second half at American Airlines Arena on February 22, 2020 in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

We don’t really post too many rumours on this site but this one has substance. According to Shams, the Raptors are in “active” trade talks with the Cleveland Cavaliers regarding Andre Drummond.

Relevant quotes from the article:

The Raptors and Cavaliers are engaged in active talks on a deal that would send Drummond to Toronto/Tampa, sources tell The Athletic. Discussions between the two sides have occurred in the last few days, and Drummond was pulled from the lineup in Sunday’s game against the Clippers due to “rest” with Cleveland on a back-to-back at the Clippers and the Warriors on Monday. Multiple sources told The Athletic that Drummond was pulled from the lineup also in part due to his “attitude and play” recently, and sources say Cavaliers coach JB Bickerstaff has had multiple sit-down conversations with the big man.

For the Raptors, a deal structure could include several contracts to reach Drummond’s $28.7 million salary this season, and it could involve multiple other teams. Such a deal could take a while to come together. The Raptors are currently starting Aron Baynes at center. While Toronto has expressed trade interest, several other teams, such as Brooklyn and Dallas, would have interest in Drummond via buyout, sources said.

Perhaps there is a third team involved but a two-team trade would have to look something like Baynes, McCaw, Johnson and….Norm?

The Raptors could also include Chris Boucher as part of any trade but given that he signed a deal, his trade restriction expires on March 2, 2021. In any configuration of interest for Cleveland you would imagine they need to acquire some developing talent, so Boucher or Powell fit the bill. Given the way Powell is playing since taking on starter duties, it makes it uncomfortable to trade him (though not too long ago this would’ve been a no-brainer).

Excluding Powell, this means to match salaries a third team would have to be involved (unless you wait till after March 2 when Boucher comes into the picture).  Leaving Boucher or Powell out would reduce the attraction of the trade for Cleveland, so a third term makes the most sense. Personally, I find it difficult to even give up Boucher if this turns out to be a rental.

Drummond would certainly address the dire defensive needs the Raptors have, with Aron Baynes simply not cutting it in extended minutes. If the Raptors do have any sort of playoff aspirations, a trade for a defensive center is a must-have, otherwise this season is frankly pointless. Drummond would allow the Raptors to play their preferred style of defense marked by aggressive closeouts and hyper switching, while providing cover for guards who get into the paint. This has been a major issue for Toronto which has been unable to contain drives off high screens, as seen most recently against Minnesota. Balancing that need with the fact that this could just be a rental is a tough one, so you could see why the Raptors would just pass on this and retain their assets. Before you crap on me for even suggesting getting a rental guy, consider that the Raptors acquired Serge Ibaka who was in a similar situation so there is precedent there.

Drummond would also help the Raptors on the glass, an area they have struggled with. They’re currently 23rd in defensive rebounding and 19th in offensive rebounding. Drummond averages 13.5 rebounds which is in sharp contrast to the Raptors current leader in rebounding: Pascal Siakam at 7.5 rpg.

Though you could possibly squeeze out a trade here the real problem may come from the competition for Drummond’s services and also his personal preference. If title aspirations are on his checklist then the Nets are possibly ahead in that regard and interested in him through the buyout market.

Another possibility is a three-way trade which would also include Kyle Lowry to a contender, Drummond to Toronto, and a combination of a pick or a prospect to Cleveland.  In this situation you would imagine the the Sixers and Clippers to be interested. The issue here is that without Lowry our playoff aspirations are sort of shot which means Drummond would have to be more than a rent-a-player. At 27 he would be seen as a long-term investment requiring him to sign a long-term deal, something that Ibaka ended up doing.  But the comparison falls short quickly because whereas Ibaka was more attuned to the modern NBA game, Drummond is very much a relic of the past. He shoots 47% from the FT line and doesn’t extend the floor at all. You’d be getting him entirely for rebounding and better pick ‘n roll defense. Offensively, he’d be of limited value. Personally, I’d rather have JV than him.

Long story short, the chances the Raptors make a move for a big man is close to 100% because the current situation is untenable.