Andre Drummond played in just eight games with the Cleveland Cavaliers before the 2019-20 season was suspended in March, and apparently that wasn't enough. The veteran center said he plans to exercise his $28.7 million player option with the Cavs for the 2020-21 season. He will become an unrestricted free agent in 2021.
"Yeah, it's going to be hard to give up, so you can count on me being in Cleveland still," Drummond said on an episode of the "Le Batard & Friends -- STUpodity" podcast, via ESPN. "I definitely will be in Cleveland."
Drummond was traded to the Cavaliers for John Henson, Brandon Knight and a 2023 second-round draft pick in February after spending all of his career to that point with the Detroit Pistons. The Pistons selected him in the first round (ninth overall) in the 2012 NBA Draft. He was named an All-Star twice in Detroit, and led the league in rebounding three times. Though it was a small sample size, Drummond picked up in Cleveland right where he left off in Detroit.
In his eight appearances for the Cavs, he averaged 17.5 points, 11.1 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 1.5 steals and 1.4 blocks per game while providing the team with a reliable low post presence. The Cavs went 4-4 during that span, which was a noticeable improvement in winning percentage over their mark for the full season (.292). After trading for him, the Cavaliers had hoped that Drummond would pick up his option, as they considered him to be a potential long-term fit.
"For us, I think in terms of his age and what he brings to our team, absolutely we consider him a potential long-term play," Cavs general manager Colby Altman said at the time. "Obviously he has a player option that, if he picks up, we think we're in good shape in terms of our cap space. There's no better money spent than Andre Drummond if he does pick up his player option."
Moving forward, Drummond projects as Cleveland's starting center, especially when you consider the fact that Tristan Thompson will be an unrestricted free agent after the season. Drummond pairs nicely with veteran power forward Kevin Love, who is under contract with the Cavaliers through 2023. Drummond and Love could potentially form a solid inside-outside frontcourt duo with Love stretching the floor and Drummond patrolling the paint. Both are also excellent rebounders. Considering the Cavs are building around a pair of young guards in Collin Sexton and Darius Garland, having a veteran post presence like Drummond certainly can't hurt.
Drummond picking up his option could ultimately work out well for both him and the Cavs, who are in the midst of a rebuilding phase. Eight games wasn't enough for either side to tell if Drummond is a good fit in Cleveland, but another season will provide a large enough sample size. If things works well, he could re-up with Cleveland in free agency in 2021. If not, the Cavs could move him (and his expiring contract) prior to the trade deadline and potentially recoup some assets in return. Drummond would then be free to sign wherever he wanted to following the season. Either way, he will be paid handsomely for his services next season.