Schmeelk: Knicks' Andre Drummond Interest Should Terrify Fans

Trade Would Indicate Mills Doesn't Know How To Build A Roster

John Schmeelk
January 13, 2020 - 3:21 pm
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The Knicks’ interest in Andre Drummond doesn’t make sense on any level and should scare Knicks fans to death that team president Steve Mills might do something very stupid before the Feb. 6 trade deadline.

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The initial report by Shams Charania of Stadium and The Athletic indicated Detroit didn’t want to take any long-term contracts and wanted draft picks or young players in return for Drummond.

Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press later reported it was the Pistons who reached out and wanted Julius Randle and Frank Ntilikina from the Knicks. Though the details of the two reports were contradictory, both indicated there wasn’t immediate traction between the two sides.

SNY’s Ian Begley then confirmed the fact that the Knicks talked to the Pistons about Drummond and termed them more “serious” than “exploratory.” He indicated it was something to keep an eye on. Without making any judgment as to the seriousness or imminence of any trade, the fact the Knicks are even talking to the Pistons about Drummond should confirm Knicks fans’ worst fears about Mills.

Why?

Drummond is a good basketball player. He doesn’t turn 27 years old until August. He is averaging 17.6 points, 15.9 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game, which is darn near identical to his numbers from last season. He is 14th of 59 qualifying centers in terms of real defensive plus/minus this season. Last season, he was 26th of 55 qualifying centers.

But is Drummond a true difference maker? In his eight seasons, the Pistons have only made the playoffs twice and have never won more than 44 games. This season, without Blake Griffin, they are 14-26. Only twice in the last five years, including this season, have the Pistons been a better team when Drummond is on the floor as opposed to off.  

Drummond is earning $27 million this season and is not expected to pick up his player option for 2020-21, which would make him an unrestricted free agent this summer. He would be looking for a contract similar, if not larger, than the five year, $127 million deal he signed with the Pistons prior to the 2016-17 season.

Given the playing style of the modern NBA that de-emphasizes the importance of a traditional post-up center, which Drummond would qualify as, it is difficult to justify dedicating such a large percentage of a team’s salary cap to him. There simply is not enough bang for the buck.

The formula might be different for a contending team already over the cap that could be looking for a center to put them over the top, but for the Knicks, it makes no sense at all.

What would make such a trade even more baffling for the Knicks is the presence of Mitchell Robinson. They have him on a cheap rookie deal for two more seasons after this one, and he is ostensibly their center of the future. There is no guarantee that Robinson ever reaches Drummond’s current level, but to block him with a high-priced veteran at the position would not serve the team’s future well.

Drummond’s contract status is the third leg of the argument for why any trade for him would be a terrible idea. With the Knicks at just 11-29, trading any asset, let alone a young player on a rookie contract or a draft pick, for someone only guaranteed to be on the roster for the remainder of the season is the EXACT OPPOSITE of the strategy they should be pursuing. Rumors indicate the Pistons may covet Dennis Smith Jr. or Ntilikina.

If the Knicks did want to eventually acquire Drummond -- which they shouldn’t -- they could simply go after him in unrestricted free agency this summer and surrender no assets at all. It is making the same mistake from the Carmelo Anthony trade again without the fear that he might go elsewhere and never become available.

The Knicks’ interest in a trade like this should raise alarms with fans, and more importantly, owner James Dolan that his team president has no idea how to manage assets or build a team. It also indicates Mills is far more interested in making a splash trade to help the team this season to save his job than improve the long-term prospects of the franchise.

An idea like this is so bad that Dolan should veto it without hesitation if it is brought to his desk and Mills should immediately be relieved of his duties. If general manager Scott Perry thinks it is a good idea, he should be fired, too.

There is not one logical argument in favor of a move like this. It is all bad and shouldn’t be considered for a moment.

Follow John on Twitter at @Schmeelk. Check out his podcast, “The Bank Shot” on WFAN.com, RADIO.COM and other popular podcast platforms.

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