It appears as though the Detroit Pistons are exploring their options with Andre Drummond.
According to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, the Pistons have talked to the Atlanta Hawks and several other teams about trading the two-time All-Star. No deal is imminent, Wojnarowski reports, but there is "an increasing belief" that he will be moved before the trade deadline on Feb. 6.
Detroit and Atlanta have been engaged in talks on a trade centered on Andre Drummond, league sources tell ESPN. No deal imminent, but Detroit is talking to Hawks and several other teams on Drummond, sources said.- Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) January 3, 2020
Drummond is having one of the best seasons of his NBA career. He's averaging a career-high 17.4 points per game while leading the league in rebounding for the third straight season. He's also averaging 2.6 assists and 1.9 blocks, both of which are among the highest totals of his career.
So why would the Pistons move on from him? Drummond has one more year remaining on his current contract, but it's a player option worth $28.8 million. He's already hinted at declining that option, potentially setting him up for a big day as an unrestricted free agent in the offseason.
The Pistons reportedly exploring options for Drummond would indicate that they're not certain they want to commit to him long term and that they're prepared to rebuild if needed.
With all that in mind, which teams are possible destinations for Drummond?
The Hawks are the only team Wojnarowski mentioned by name in his report.
The Hawks have been one of the worst teams in the league this season, but they have a bright future with Trae Young and John Collins leading the way. Even though Drummond isn't the perfect centre to pair with them, he's an upgrade over who they currently have at his position and he does have the potential to complement the two of them on both ends of the court - Young because he's a big who can set hard screens and provide some vertical spacing as a lob target, Collins because he can match up with opposing centres and serve as the team's anchor on defence.
It helps that Drummond and Young are reportedly close friends.
It wouldn't be difficult for the Hawks to match Drummond's salary this season. They have three expiring contracts in Chandler Parsons, Evan Turner and Allen Crabbe, each of whom are making over $18.0 million. Parsons alone gets it done, but the Pistons will almost certainly be looking for some sort of asset in return for Drummond, whether it's a draft pick or one of the team's younger prospects, such as Kevin Huerter, Cam Reddish or De'Andre Hunter.
Something along the lines of Turner, Alex Len and one of those players or a draft pick might, therefore, make the most sense.
The Hawks have plenty of space to sign Drummond to the contract he's looking for as well. With Parsons, Turner and Crabbe set to be free agents, they have only $33.4 million committed to their roster for next season.
The question the Hawks would have to ask themselves is does the addition of Drummond get them closer to where they want to be long-term? Or would they be better off keeping their options open and waiting for someone else to become available? Because if they do make a move for him, they would be signing up for a core of Young, Collins and Drummond.
As talented as the three of them are individually, the combination doesn't exactly scream contender next season or beyond.
The Celtics will be a trade destination for any centre who becomes available before the trade deadline because it's the one position where they could use a boost.
Specifically, the Celtics could do with having someone who can defend Joel Embiid because they'll likely have to go through the Philadelphia 76ers to make the NBA Finals. Drummond doesn't necessarily have a history of slowing down Embiid - quite the contrary, actually - but he has a better chance of keeping up with the two-time All-Star than Daniel Theis, Enes Kanter and Robert Williams III.
Drummond might also have more success against Embiid if surrounded by better defenders. He's at least big enough to match up with him, and the collective length of Marcus Smart, Gordon Hayward, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown could be enough to contain him in a way that helps level the playing field between the two teams.
Once again, the tricky part for the Celtics is matching salaries. In the case of Drummond, they would almost certainly have to build something around Hayward or Smart. Hayward straight up for Drummond works, whereas they'd have to include as much as three players with Smart to get close to Drummond's salary of $27.1 million this season.
Ultimately, the Celtics might determine that that's too much to give up, especially with the possibility that Drummond declines his player option to sign with another team in the offseason.
The Clippers are a destination for any centre for the same reason as the Celtics - it's the one position they could use a boost.
The Clippers do have Montrezl Harrell, but Drummond would give them even more size to battle with the likes of Nikola Jokic, Anthony Davis, Rudy Gobert and Embiid in the playoffs. The best way to look at it is through the lens of him being Ivica Zubac's replacement. Zubac is younger and on a more team-friendly contract, but Drummond would raise their ceiling on both ends of the court.
The kicker is the Clippers would have an even harder time matching salaries than the Celtics. With Kawhi Leonard and Paul George being off-limits for obvious reasons, they'd have to part ways with two or three of Patrick Beverley, Maurice Harkless, Lou Williams, Zubac and Harrell for it to even be an option.
The Clippers probably wouldn't hesitate to trade Harkless in the right deal, but they'd have good reason to believe that Drummond isn't a big enough upgrade over what they currently have to gut their depth over.
Still, they make for an interesting possibility.
There have been reports in the past that the Hornets have been interested in acquiring Drummond.
The draw is rather simple: Drummond gives them someone to build around after losing Kemba Walker in free agency.
The irony is there were reports that the Hornets didn't offer Walker the supermax extension he was eligible for. Drummond won't be in line to make the same amount of money, but if he turns down his player option for next season, it's probably a sign he believes he can make a similar amount of money or more on his next contract.
Not that the Hornets couldn't afford to pay him that money. Similar to the Hawks, they have several expiring contracts this season in Bismack Biyombo, Marvin Williams and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. Even more, money will open up the following season when Cody Zeller and Nicolas Batum come off their books.
That would give the Hornets a one-two punch of Terry Rozier and Drummond moving forward, plus Devonte' Graham, who is playing his way into a nice extension. The Hornets aren't far out of the playoff picture right now, so the addition of Drummond could be what they need to move up one or two spots in the standings.
Toronto Raptors - According to Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo, the Raptors have "registered interest" in Drummond. Goodwill added that Drummond has a relationship with Kyle Lowry. If the Raptors were to trade for Drummond, it would likely be for Marc Gasol or Serge Ibaka, both of whom are on expiring contracts this season. Drummond can be viewed as an expiring contract as well, but his age makes him a more viable long-term option at centre than Gasol or Ibaka.
Dallas Mavericks - The Mavericks are another team Goodwill reported as having "registered interest" in Drummond. Having drafted Luka Doncic and traded for Kristaps Porzingis, they're now in the business of surrounding the two of them with players who can get the most out of them. Does Drummond fit that bill? He'd give them another rim-runner to pair with Doncic and a true centre next to Porzingis in the frontcourt, but he might not move the needle enough for the Mavericks to be a realistic destination.
New York Knicks - Drummond is from New York. That's it. That's the reason.
The views expressed here do not represent those of the NBA or its clubs.