Cleveland — The victories have been scarce for the Cavaliers this season, overwhelmed by so many ugly losses, so many unwatchable moments.
However, they’re certain they won the NBA trading deadline. Landing two-time All- Star Andre Drummond is a huge get.
“For what they gave up, it’s a (blanking) steal,” said Tristan Thompson, using a profanity to emphasize his point.
Unexpectedly, the Cavs finalized their trade for Drummond, the league’s leading rebounder at 15.8 boards per game in the final hour before Thursday’s deadline, completing a deal nobody had on their radar.
Cleveland sent guard Brandon Knight, forward John Henson and one of its second-round draft picks in 2023 to the Detroit Pistons for the 26-year-old Drummond, one of the game’s best all-around centers.
“He plays extremely hard and has crazy production,” Cavs star forward Kevin Love said Friday after practice. “It makes us competitive. We added an All-Star level player. He’s a versatile big who can do a lot of things for us.”
General manager Koby Altman wasn’t necessarily in the market for another front court player, not with Thompson, Love and Larry Nance Jr. already on the roster. But he said the chance to add a player of Drummond’s caliber, a versatile, rebounding machine and proven veteran who will make the Cavs’ younger players better immediately and perhaps in the future, was too enticing.
“He just gives us a dimension we haven’t had in quite some time,” Altman said on a conference call. “We just thought it was an unbelievable opportunity for our franchise and for our players to play alongside Andre. We’ve been through a lot of battles with him over the years and in the playoffs.
“This is a player we’ve always coveted and to have the opportunity to add him to the Cavs was an opportunity we didn’t think we could pass up.”
Drummond was on his way to Cleveland while his new teammates worked out Friday. He’s expected to meet with the media on Saturday and make his debut Sunday night at home against the Los Angeles Clippers.
His arrival is a much needed spark for the young Cavs, who at 13-39 have the Eastern Conference’s worst record under ex-Michigan coach John Beilein.
Cleveland has been mired in a prolonged funk for six weeks. The Cavs have lost 11 straight games at home and dropped 12 of 13 overall.
“I think we are going to evolve as an even more dangerous offensive team,” Altman said.