'No friends or loyalty': Pistons ship Andre Drummond to Cavaliers

Rod Beard
The Detroit News

Detroit — The Pistons’ roster renovation has begun — and they did it in a big way less than an hour before Thursday’s NBA trade deadline.

The Pistons parted with center Andre Drummond, their longest-tenured player, sending him to the Cleveland Cavaliers for veterans Brandon Knight, John Henson and a second-round pick.

The trade was made official by a statement from the team released Thursday night.

The future second-round pick will be in 2023, when the Cavaliers have two picks: theirs and the Golden State Warriors'. The Pistons will get the lower of those selections, league sources confirmed. 

The Pistons parted with center Andre Drummond, their longest-tenured player, trading him to the Cleveland Cavaliers for veterans Brandon Knight, John Henson and a second-round pick, multiple league sources told The Detroit News.

ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski was first to report the Drummond trade.

Acquiring two players in the deal put the Pistons' roster at 16, one over the maximum. They are waiving reserve point guard Tim Frazier to make room, a source told The News. 

Drummond had been the subject of heightened trade speculation for the past couple of weeks. Though he’s been mentioned in the past, this time, the Pistons made the move.

"I’ve been hearing that for the last four years, so it doesn't faze me," Drummond said after Wednesday night’s game, his last in a Pistons uniform.

It wasn’t a completely amicable parting of the ways, as Drummond posted his displeasure on Twitter Thursday after the trade was completed.

"If there’s one thing I learned about the NBA, there’s no friends or loyalty," Drummond tweeted. "I’ve given my heart and soul to the Pistons, and to be have this happen with no heads up makes me realize even more that this is just a business! I love you Detroit...

"... you will always have a special place in my heart! But on to the next. @cavs hope your (sic) ready! Let’s finish the year off the right way"

Drummond, 26, has a player option for $28.8 million next season and has indicated that he would like to test the market in free agency for the first time in his career. For the Cavaliers, it’s a low-risk option, to see if he can fit in first-year coach John Beilein’s plans as an elite rebounder and defender.

Drummond joins a Cavs frontline that includes Tristan Thompson and Kevin Love, but with the Cavs holding the worst record in the Eastern Conference, their long-term future plans could go in myriad directions — with team owner Dan Gilbert — to proceed with or without Drummond.

Through eight seasons, Drummond, 6-foot-10 and 280 pounds, was the centerpiece of the Pistons’ roster. Drummond, a two-time All-Star, was having the best season, with a career-best 17.8 points and a league-leading 15.8 rebounds.

He’s led the league in rebounding for three of the past four seasons but with his contract uncertainty became untenable, with his ability to opt-in and potentially delay the Pistons’ planned rebuild with younger players and smaller salaries.

The Pistons (19-34) have fallen on hard times this season, after Blake Griffin had knee surgery on Jan. 7, likely ending his season, and missing many players in their starting lineup because of injuries and illnesses.

Drummond was seen as a fixture on the roster after signing a five-year deal for $127 million in 2016. That season, Drummond earned his first All-Star appearance and along with Reggie Jackson, helped the Pistons make the playoffs.

He had another All-Star selection in 2018 and when the Pistons acquired Blake Griffin in January 2018, team owner Tom Gores had heightened expectations of bolstering the roster with more assets and young players to create a perennial playoff team.

Injuries to Griffin and Jackson in the past two years have derailed those plans and the Pistons, who are on track to win 30 games this season, were almost forced to revamp the roster because of the uncertainty around Drummond’s future.  

Getting Henson and Knight, who was drafted by the Pistons in the first round (No. 8 overall) in 2011, provides the matching salaries needed to move Drummond. Both contracts are expiring, which will open about $35 million in cap space next season for the Pistons to move to the next stage of their rebuild.


Twitter: @detnewsRodBeard