Andre Drummond looked like a lock to stay with the Detroit Pistons once the Atlanta Hawks -- his most serious suitor -- acquired Clint Capela on Tuesday. But in a trade deadline stunner, Drummond is moving on after all. He has been traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.
The return on the deal is still being worked out, but from a salary perspective, the Pistons will acquire the expiring contracts of John Henson and Brandon Knight, as first reported by The Ringer's Kevin O'Connor. There will also be a second-round pick going to Detroit, which will be the lesser of Golden State's and Cleveland's in 2023, according to Wojnarowski.
With Tristan Thompson's contract set to expire, the Cavaliers have been exploring moves for their former championship starter, but with him seemingly no longer part of the organization's plans, Cleveland needed to look elsewhere for a long-term center. It seems to have found one in Drummond. While he has a player option for the 2020-21 season, Cleveland wouldn't have made this deal without planning to extend his deal. Now they'll have two months to evaluate him within their system before making a final decision.
While Drummond has been in the NBA since 2012, he was one of the youngest one-and-done rookies that the league has seen. He is still only 26-years-old, so he still broadly fits into the timeline of the rebuilding Cavaliers. Cleveland was already one of the best rebounding teams in the NBA, but the pairing of Drummond and Kevin Love -- who appears unlikely to be moved -- should give them an even better duo up front.
For Detroit, this deal represents an organizational shift towards rebuilding. The Pistons have not finished better than eighth in the Eastern Conference since the 2007-08 season, and their shortsighted management was a big reason why. For the past decade, Detroit emphasized merely making the playoffs rather than doing anything once they got there. Moves were made in the interest of short-term competitiveness rather than long-term vision.
But in moving Drummond without getting meaningful immediate talent in return, the Pistons finally seem to have accepted the need to rebuild slowly. Currently four games out of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, Detroit will likely now fall further down in the standings and pick up a few extra ping pong balls in May's lottery in the process. It may not be pretty, but given their mediocrity over the past decade, this is what's best for the Pistons.