Although they are the third worst team in the NBA, the Knicks are so star hungry that they’ve reportedly been salivating at the thought of gobbling up Detroit Pistons big man Andre Drummond ahead of the trade deadline.
While there’s no question Drummond is a beast of a monster — the 26-year-old center is averaging almost 18 points and is leading the league with 16.2 boards per game — this is mostly unwelcome news, as the Knicks already have a starting center of the future. You may know him; his name’s Mitchell Robinson, and the Knicks selected him with a 2018 second round pick the team received when they traded Carmelo Anthony to the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Of course, just because you have a promising young player doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consider adding All-Star level talent, so before we start flipping tables let’s dig into what’s actually going on with the rumors of a deal for Drummond.
It all started with a report from Shams Charania, who is a senior NBA insider for The Athletic and also serves as an NBA analyst for something called Stadium. Per Shams, the Knicks and Pistons aren’t actually close to making a trade. Instead, New York simply made an exploratory call to Detroit in order to gauge the market for Drummond, and nothing has gotten much traction. The Pistons want expiring contracts and draft picks, the latter of which is something the Knicks have plenty of but don’t want to give up.
Further, Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News quoted a source as saying “there’s nothing really there” when it comes to discussions between the Knicks and Pistons about Drummond.
Phew! It seems everything is wrapped up in a neat little package.
Oh, hi Ian Begley of SNY. Did you have something to add?
For those too lazy to watch the above one-minute-and-13-second video, Begley reported that the recent talks between New York and Detroit were more serious than just exploratory.
The Pistons are anticipating that Drummond will opt out after the season instead of picking up his $29 million player option, which would make him an unrestricted free agent. Therefore, if the Knicks were to trade for him, they could either let him walk at the end of the season to free up cap space or ink him to a long-term contract.
And, according to Begley, the Pistons have some interest in Dennis Smith Jr., who has missed the last eight games with an oblique strain and is reportedly open to a trade. If the Knicks could somehow trade, say, Julius Randle and DSJ for Drummond — which is a trade that would be successful, according to the ESPN trade machine — it wouldn’t necessarily be the worst thing to ever happen.
Unfortunately, it seems such a package wouldn’t suit the desires of Detroit. To be frank, unless the Knicks have some kind of ingenious plan whereupon they pair Drummond and Robinson together in a successful manner, which seems difficult, the front office should probably back away slowly before they do something dumb.
Consider that through his first 100 games, Robinson had more blocks (223) than any other Knick in history through that many games, as detailed in this recent piece from Tommy Beer at Forbes. Robinson will likely move into the top 10 for total blocks in franchise history by next season (perhaps later this season), as he’s only 48 swats behind current 10th place man John Gianelli, per basketball-reference.
The Feb. 6 trade deadline is coming up fast, and hopefully the Knicks are just sounding things out here with Drummond. In reality, an acquisition of Drummond would make it much harder for Robinson to get the minutes and development he needs. The Knicks aren’t going to the playoffs this year, but they might have a few solid pieces that could be part of a successful team in the future, and there’s no reason to snag a player who should definitely start over the guy who is supposed to be the starting center going forward.
Of course, Steve Mills and Scott Perry are fighting for their jobs, and they might think that acquiring a two-time All-Star would give James Dolan reason to retain them. However, now is not the time to be short-sighted. The Knicks should only trade for Drummond if it’s on their terms.
Unfortunately, we aren’t running the show. Mills and Perry are. So please, for your own health and sanity, expect the unexpected, and be prepared for anything.