The biggest trade of the 2021-22 NBA season happened at the trade deadline with All-Star James Harden being dealt from the Brooklyn Nets to the Philadelphia 76ers for All-Star Ben Simmons.
A third All-Star was involved in this trade, but nobody seemed to want to pay any attention to Andre Drummond going to Brooklyn in this deal.
After being bought out of his contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers last season, Drummond signed a minimum deal with the Los Angeles Lakers for the rest of the 2020-21 season, only for his role to decrease drastically, resulting in the veteran center falling out of Los Angeles’ rotations entirely.
This past offseason, Drummond signed a one-year minimum deal with the 76ers as a result of his market being minimal. With both Philadelphia and Brooklyn though, Andre Drummond has once again proven that he can be a starting center in this league.
Combined, the 28-year-old big man averaged 7.9 points and 9.3 rebounds this season, but in 24 games with the Brooklyn Nets, Drummond averaged 11.8 points and 10.3 rebounds, while shooting 61% from the floor.
Leading the league in rebounding four different times from 2016-2020, Andre Drummond has proven to be a force in the past and while his production is not the same as it once was, he can still be a factor in this league, especially on the glass.
In his short time with the Nets this season, the 6’10” big man embraced his role as an impact rebounder and entering the offseason, Drummond’s market could actually be pretty expansive.
While he will not see “All-Star-like” money, Andre Drummond has proven that his impact is a lot more than that of a minimum contract player’s.
So what is his market looking like and what kind of money should he see once free agency begins?
There are very few big men available in free agency this offseason, which is why bringing back Andre Drummond could be a little tough for the Nets to do.
Jusuf Nurkic (Portland Trail Blazers) is the best true center available as an unrestricted free agent this offseason and both Deandre Ayton (Phoenix Suns) and Mo Bamba (Orlando Magic) are “available” as restricted free agents, but the next name that sticks out as being available is Andre Drummond’s.
Not many teams around the league are looking for a new center, which could ultimately drive Drummond’s value down a little bit should he not sign a new contract within the first day or two of free agency, but Brooklyn is not going to be able to get Andre Drummond to agree to a minimum contract.
As a result, keeping Drummond will result in the Nets having to pay more money in taxes.
They do not own any bird rights on Drummond and they are operating above the cap and tax line already, which is why the key way the Nets could look to bring back their big man is via their taxpayer mid-level exception.
This taxpayer MLE is worth upwards of $6.3 million, giving the Nets the ability to offer Andre Drummond a one-year, $6.3 million contract should they wish to do so. A two-year, $12 million offer is also definitely in-play here, but is this what the big man is looking for?
Averaging a double-double since coming to Brooklyn, Drummond’s numbers are very comparable to those of Clint Capela’s (Atlanta Hawks), Steven Adams’ (Memphis Grizzlies) and Jakob Poeltl’s (San Antonio Spurs) from this season.
Capela averaged 11.1 points and 11.9 rebounds this season while making an annual average value of $18 million on his contract, Adams averaged 6.9 points and 10.0 rebounds while making an annual average value of $17.5 million and Poeltl averaged 13.5 points and 9.3 rebounds while making an annual average value of $8.75 million.
Again, it is hard to imagine that Drummond’s value in free agency will reach anywhere between $15 million and $18 million like the contracts of Capela and Adams, but something close to the contract of Poeltl is definitely in-range for Andre Drummond and he could potentially demand a little bit higher value, taking the Nets out of consideration due to their financial restrictions.
A three-year, $30 million to $35 million deal seems very fair given Andre Drummond's value and production on the floor, but this is a contract that is well out of the Nets' pay-range.
About a month ago, the former All-Star center was asked about his future in Brooklyn and he didn't hold back on his answer.
“If we're all being honest, I'm only here til the rest of the season. Who knows what's gonna happen in the offseason?” Drummond said.
Anything can happen in the offseason and the Nets may very well be able to retain Andre Drummond using their taxpayer mid-level exception, but as of right now, it looks like Drummond is open to pursuing other opportunities that may come his way.
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