Detroit — Through seven-plus years with the Pistons, Andre Drummond had seen his share of trade speculation and this season was no different.
When he got the news that he had been traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers ahead of Thursday’s trade deadline, it was something of a shock. Drummond left the only franchise he had known and was heading to a division rival.
Still, there was that level of disbelief that everything around him would be changing.
“I thought it was a joke at first, but obviously when it all settled in, I’m truly excited to be somewhere that I’m wanted,” Drummond told reporters after his first practice with the Cavaliers. “I’m really excited to be starting a new chapter here.”
Drummond, 26, joins a struggling Cavaliers squad that already has big men Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson, but all signs point to the Cavs making Drummond more of a centerpiece. General manager Koby Altman and coach John Beilein will look to put him in the starting role at center and bring Thompson off the bench.
Drummond tweeted about his surprise and said that he didn’t get a “heads up” that he was being dealt, for the expiring contracts of John Henson and Brandon Knight, along with a 2023 second-round pick.
He was asked whether he took the small return as a sign of disrespect, but he seemed to focus more on the future than the past with the Pistons.
“I’m looking forward to playing in a Cleveland Cavaliers jersey,” Drummond said. “I’m excited to be here and everything happens for a reason.”
Drummond said that he spoke to former Pistons teammates Reggie Jackson and Blake Griffin about what to expect after being traded for the first time and they gave him some insight about what he should do and how to approach being on a new team.
He had a welcoming atmosphere with Love, who has the same agent, and Thompson, who had dinner with Drummond on Friday night.
Beilein is excited to have a two-time All-Star and premier rebounder to help the Cavs’ frontline and to build their depth. The move puts Thompson in the second unit and gives them more punch there as well, with Thompson as a capable scorer and defender.
“I love so many parts of his game and we’ll retool a little bit and try to figure out where we go and go practice by practice and game by game,” Beilein said. “It’s exciting and what I like best is how Tristan and Kevin have reacted to it.”
Altman indicated that the possibility of getting Drummond emerged late Wednesday and they finalized the deal with the Pistons in the final hour before the deadline. He admires Drummond’s strength and skill and what he adds to their roster.
Altman has known Drummond going back a decade to USA Basketball and he’s watched him from afar.
“This is a player we’ve always coveted,” Altman said during a conference call with reporters on Friday morning. “He just gives us a dimension we haven’t had in quite some time. We just thought it was an unbelievable opportunity for our franchise and for our players to play alongside Andre. I think everyone is pretty excited to welcome him with open arms and looking forward to having a fun 30 games to end the season here.”