Andre Drummond’s moves with Pistons more magnified as trade deadline approaches

By Matt Schoch
The Detroit News

Detroit — Pistons center Andre Drummond stayed late at the office on Monday night, getting a few extra 3-pointers off on the Little Caesars Arena floor after he was benched for the final 20 minutes in an overtime loss to New Orleans.

After going through practice on Tuesday, Drummond was “probably one of the first to leave,” coach Dwane Casey said, already off the practice floor by the time the media was allowed in.

Pistons center Andre Drummond, center, dunks on Pelicans center Jahlil Okafor here on Monday. Drummond was pulled from the game with 3:29 left in the third quarter and watched the rest from the bench.

These types of actions are even more magnified these days for Drummond with trade rumors aplenty after ESPN reported earlier this month his days in Detroit could be numbered.

Clips of Drummond ripping off his jersey leaving the court after Saturday’s loss to Chicago, in which he was ejected for throwing the ball at his opponent, and clips of Jahlil Okafor scoring over the big man Monday were played on ESPN on Tuesday as talking heads debated whether this tough stretch might be hurting his trade value.

For his part Tuesday, Casey did not single out Drummond after the two-time All-Star sat out the fourth quarter and overtime as Detroit fought back from a 16-point deficit in the fourth against New Orleans, falling 117-110 in overtime.

But Casey, noted for his deft handling of a successful rebuild situation in Toronto, had plenty to say about what should and shouldn’t be tolerated during the process.

“Like I tell players, not only are you auditioning for us, you’re auditioning for 29 other teams,” Casey said. “And your negotiating power is what you put on the floor. Your resume is what you put on the floor. If you put a half-hearted effort on the floor, that’s part of your negotiating.

“Things get a little bit more personal. Selfishness will seep in if you allow it to, and we’re not going to allow it to. It’s going to be about the Detroit Pistons.”

Drummond was 5-for-14 shooting on Monday, while Okafor scored 19 points before halftime, with just the game’s first 24 minutes good for his second-most productive total game so far this season. Drummond was pulled from the game with 3:29 left in the third quarter and watched the rest from the bench.

Like Detroit, New Orleans is dealing with a tidal wave of injuries, but could be adding a centerpiece in the coming days with the rumored debut of first overall pick Zion Williamson.

The opposite is true in Detroit, where the centerpiece could be gone soon, with Drummond being linked to Atlanta, Boston, Charlotte, Cleveland, Dallas, New York and Toronto by various recent reports, citing unnamed sources.

These rumors are nothing new in the league, but are especially poignant here where Drummond has been a centerpiece for eight disappointing seasons. Since being drafted No. 9 in 2012, he’s won three rebounding titles and made an All-NBA team but only helped sneak the Pistons into the playoffs twice as the eighth seed, going 0-8 in the postseason.

Also at issue is Drummond not exactly being an expiring deal: He holds a $28.8 million player option for next season, which he could exercise in Detroit or elsewhere.

Still, these types of situations are not unique, nor are they an excuse, Casey said.

“Every player I’ve been with — Dirk Nowitzki, Gary Payton, Shawn Kemp — everybody has been in a rumor,” Casey said. “Every player, Kevin Garnett in Minnesota was on the trade market. Kyle Lowry was traded in Toronto, and the owner nixed the trade. He came back and played his behind off. He played with a chip on his shoulder, but he got the job done. 

“If you’re in this league long enough and you’re productive and you’re a good player, there’s probably a pretty good chance your name is going to be in the trade rumors. So, again, we still have a job to do.”

Drummond’s job could grow even more interesting as his next couple games are road games against potential suitors: Wednesday against Boston and Saturday at Atlanta.

There are still 12 Pistons games before the Feb. 6 trade deadline, and Casey appears to be setting the ground rules for what could be a stressful stretch under the magnifying glass.

“Andre is a professional. We talk to players all the time about being pros, approaching the game,” Casey said. “Mr. Gores checks haven’t bounced. They come first and 15th. We’re all getting paid. We all have a job to do.”

Jax back?

Reggie Jackson could be returning to game action soon, but Casey would not commit to a timetable Tuesday.

“Any moment now, he should be back," Casey said. "He's moving like he's 100% right now. He should be ready to roll here at anytime."

The starting point guard played 36 minutes in the first two games of the season, but has been out with a stress reaction in his lower back since Oct. 24. The team announced he was making positive progress on Dec. 2, and he would be re-evaluated two weeks later.

Since then, the team has increased the load of reserve Derrick Rose while Bruce Brown has seen increased minutes as the team’s lead guard.

Jackson, an unrestricted free agent this offseason, has averaged 16.2 points and 5.6 assists per game in six seasons with Detroit.

Meanwhile, Casey said the return of reserve second-year guard Khyri Thomas was not imminent.

Thomas had surgery on his right foot in November and was putting up shots after practice on Tuesday.

Mighty expensive pen

In writing news, Rose was fined $25,000 for throwing a pen into the stands on Monday night, the NBA announced.

After Nicolo Melli’s turnaround jump shot to put New Orleans up 113-107 in the final minute of overtime, Rose went to the bench for a timeout.

There’s he picked up a pen off a clipboard assistant coach Sean Sweeney had set on a table near the bench. Rose picked up the pen and flung it across the court.

It was unclear whether the pen hit anybody.

Matt Schoch is a freelance writer.

Pistons at Celtics

► Tip-off: 7 Wednesday, TD Garden, Boston

► TV/radio: Fox Sports Detroit/97.1 FM

► Outlook: It’s now 12 losses in the last 15 games for the Pistons (14-27). Making matters worse is a meeting with the Celtics (27-11), who topped New Orleans and Chicago this week on the alternate nights that those teams, in turn, were beating the Pistons. Detroit had won a road game in Boston for five straight seasons until last year and will try to on its last trip there this season on Wednesday. Christian Wood (right knee soreness) is questionable for Pistons with right knee soreness, while Blake Griffin, Luke Kennard, Reggie Jackson and Khyri Thomas remain out. For Boston, Robert Williams III is out, and Tacko Fall and Carsen Edwards are with the G League. In addition, Daniel Theis (right knee soreness) was questionable, and Jayson Tatum (right knee soreness) was probable.