In case you have been hibernating for the winter, the Detroit Pistons traded Andre Drummond about three hours southeast to Cleveland. The return for the All-Star caliber center was perhaps less than stellar, and the move certainly looks like a loss (for now) for Detroit. But things are not always as they seem. Now that things have settled and fans have cleansed the palette with Christian Wood dominating with regular minutes, I gathered some of our writers to help make sense of this seismic change.
Q: Let’s start with a positive: What is your favorite memory of Andre Drummond as a member of the Motor City?
Jacob Rogers (@JRogersNBA): One of my favorite moments of Andre’s career as a Piston was when he won the Rising Stars MVP in his second year in the league. After a rookie season riddled with injuries and backing up Greg Monroe, Drummond showcased his talent in the Rising Stars game where he put up 30 points and 25 rebounds. This moment sticks out to me so much because it’s the moment he finally started getting some recognition around the league.
Ashley Gross (@Ash_Ketchum313): What I think will be one of the more under-appreciated parts of Andre Drummond’s game, was his pure athletic ability for the center position.You must keep in mind, that Drummond is a 7-foot tall man that weighs in at nearly 280 pounds! That is not a small task to carry all that weight around and run and jump at the level that Drummond plays basketball in.
Drummond wasn’t your everyday kind of center that moved at the speed of a sloth. He was a very active and mobile big man…
Which leads me to my best moment in his career—when he ripped an in-his prime Dwayne Wade at half-court, not once, but twice (consecutively)! The moment happened back in 2013, in a game against the Miami Heat in the fourth quarter.
The Pistons were losing by almost 20 points. Wade was casually bringing the ball up the court and found himself matched up with Drummond. Drummond stood his guard as Wade tried to get by him with some fancy footwork, dribbling the ball.
Drummond stood firm in his defensive stance and picked Wade (clean) the first time and sprinted down the court for a fastbreak dunk. The second time steal came when Wade, was found again with the ball in his possession signaled for a screen, and again found himself being guarded by Drummond. Drummond, being patient and firm in his defensive stance, stood his ground and ripped Wade for the 2nd consecutive time in under 45 seconds!
He ran down the court again for what appeared to be another easy bucket, but was soon fouled by Dwayne Wade, who I assumed had to be a bit embarrassed that he had been stripped, not once, but twice, by a younger but larger and slower moving player than himself.
This raised my eyebrow at Drummond’s ability on as a ballplayer, and gave me hope, as well as intrigued that maybe, he could develop into something special for the Pistons, someday.
Will Anderson (@CoachAnderson29): My best memory of Andre is a time that didn’t even happen to be on the court. A couple of years ago, a buddy of mine surprised me with two tickets to my first NBA game where the Pistons played the Hawks in Atlanta (I live in Alabama so it’s a bit difficult for me to be able to get to many Pistons games). We got there a couple of hours early and decided to get some autographs from some of the players during shoot around.
Andre was the last off the court to go back to the locker room and as fans were beginning to file into the arena, there were a bunch of us leaning over the rail with shirts, cards, hats, etc. for him to sign. He ran right by us and got a couple of steps up the tunnel before stopping, turning around, and coming back to us Pistons fans. He signed EVERY autograph and took however many pictures we wanted before hurrying back into the locker room.
Thank you Andre for being the guy who was brought in and gave us so much hope that you would carry us and the organization on your shoulders to make us relevant again. Sorry it didn’t work out, but you’ll always have a fan in me!
Q: Onto the bad side of things. What was your least favorite memory of Drummond (this trade excluded, of course)?
Jacob Rogers: As far as my least favorite moment, I can’t really think of one off the top of my head. It always frustrated me when he would go from a 20-20 game and then follow it up with seven points and nine rebounds on inefficient shooting and foul trouble. As far as one moment goes, nothing really sticks out for me.
Ashley Gross: Drummond played with the Pistons for a little over eight years. Within that timeframe, I can’t single out any one specific moment that was his worst moment. But what I can sum up was the moments where Drummond would show, at times, his emotional and understandable displeasure with himself over how he was playing in games.
Those brief moments of frustration would often bleed into consecutive moments throughout the course of the game, where he would let his emotions get the better of him. You could see the frustration in his face. You could notice that his aggression and assertiveness in the game would start to wane. He at times just seemed as if he didn’t want to play anymore or even be on the court.
To the fans of the Detroit Pistons, those images will never be erased from their minds. His lack of aggression at times were infuriating to watch, because he was a player that had so much potential and offered so much more to this team, other than just rebounding and lob-dunks. He was the franchise player, the hopeful future of the team’s success. Whenever Drummond checked out of games mentally, those are truly some of the worst moments in his tenure with the Pistons.
Will Anderson: The worst moment for me regarding Andre’s tenure would be a time this season. As someone who coaches organized team sports, I value the brand of the team you play for. Not everybody gets to wear the jersey you have on, so I believe it is important to value the opportunity while you have it. When Andre tore his jersey this year after a game, and yes the team was (and still is) struggling and it can be extremely frustrating, ripping a jersey just isn’t the best look in my opinion.
Q: Onto the big question that many Pistons fans are debating: what do you think of the return for Drummond? Too little? Market value?
Jacob Rogers: The Pistons have now hit the rebuild button, and this time for good. With Drummond gone and Reggie Jackson’s contract off the books after the season, Detroit now has over $40 million in cap-space to use on free agents, trades and re-signing guys like Christian Wood. Having cap flexibility is something the Pistons haven’t had in years. The question now is: what happens to Blake Griffin? Is he a part of the rebuild or no?
Ashley Gross: Initially, when reports were confirmed that the Pistons had traded Drummond to the Cleveland Cavaliers for Brandon Knight, John Henson and a 2023 second-round pick, many reactions were met with disbelief.
A bit of outrage that a two-time NBA All-Star and multi-time rebounding title winner, would be shipped out of town for pesos, when compared to the American dollar—the American dollar being the value return of a quality player equal or similar to Drummond’s value, or at least a first-round pick.
But honestly, now that some time has passed…I feel that the Pistons did what was right for the “Pistons”, and their franchise moving forward. Detroit will now, for the first time in years, have a large amount of cap space to make more trades or sign quality players in the future. Getting out from under Drummond’s huge contract was the main priority.
I feel that the league recognizes that Drummond is one of top players at his position. But with the basketball climate being the way that it is currently it became increasingly difficult for the Pistons to receive the type of compensation in return for Drummond that they were hoping for.
Will Anderson: The return for Andre kind of stunned me for a bit. We did get two expiring contracts that will come off the book at the end of the season and gives us around $34 million above the cap to address needs with other trades or free agents. Bringing back Brandon Knight in a crowded young guard situation was a bit of a surprise, but I understand the need with Reggie and Derrick’s injury history pretty questionable. Hearing reports that the Pistons were actually going to draft John Henson before taking Drummond a pretty cool what-if moment just to see what could happen in the last games of the season. However, I know neither of these players will be on the roster after this year, but hopefully a change of scenery will benefit these guys to get a payday in the offseason.
Q: Given all that has happened this season (Blake Griffin injury, Reggie Jackson injury, Drummond trade), where do the Pistons go from here? What is the plan?
Jacob Rogers: When asked about Blake, Ed Stefanski said, “He’s working extremely hard to rehab. When June rolls around he will be healthy.”
This doesn’t really indicate whether or not Detroit has plans to move Griffin. Personally, I think Griffin will be in Detroit throughout the remainder of his contract. A healthy Griffin along with the young core intrigues me a lot. However, Griffin could also be moved during the offseason.
It will be interesting to see where the front office goes from here.
Ashley Gross: Detroit must accept that they are fully in a rebuild phase. This isn’t a declaration that the team will be best for the next several years, but more of a statement that the team needs to hit the reset button. By hitting reset, the team can wipe the slate clean and usher in a new era of Detroit Pistons basketball for the betterment of the franchise.
Detroit must accept that they are fully in a rebuild phase. This isn’t a declaration that the team will be best for the next several years, but more of a statement that the team needs to hit the reset button. By hitting reset, the team can wipe the slate clean and usher in a new era of Detroit Pistons basketball for the betterment of the franchise.
Will Anderson: Leading up to deadline day, there was SO MUCH chatter about trading him, I finally just said “can we please trade him so this talk can end?!” Then when he was traded, and we were given details about what we got back, I think there was a mass confusion throughout the Pistons community. A guy who is literally a rebounding machine, leads the league in rebounds every year and someone that truly felt like they enjoyed being in Detroit. It hurt losing someone like that, someone who’s been the face of the franchise for the past couple of years and someone we thought would help turn the franchise around, and it just didn’t happen like that.
(Featured image by Brian Babineua/Getty)