Report: Bulls 'have registered interest' in Cavaliers center Andre Drummond

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Rob Schaefer
·4 min read
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Report: Bulls 'have registered interest' in Drummond originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

Could the hot stove be heating up in Chicago with the March 25 trade deadline three weeks away?

The Bulls "have registered interest" in Cleveland Cavaliers center Andre Drummond, The Athletic's Shams Charania reported Thursday morning.

Drummond got off to a strong start to the 2020-21 season, averaging 19.3 points, 15.8 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 1.7 steals and 1.6 blocks through 13 games for a Cavaliers team that impressed out of the gate.

But injuries derailed the team, and the acquisition of the promising, 22-year-old Jarrett Allen as a tag-on in the Brooklyn Nets' trade for James Harden led to a marked dip in Drummond's role. In 13 appearances after Allen's Cavaliers debut, Drummond's minutes fell from 32.2 per game to 25.8; he hasn't played since Feb. 12 as the Cavaliers have featured Allen and sought a suitor for Drummond's services.

Charania adds that "skepticism remains on whether the [Cavaliers] can find a desirable trade" for Drummond, which is all too predictable. Though he's playing on an expiring contract, Drummond's $28.7 million salary figure for the 2020-21 season is both bloated and difficult to match in a trade.

The Bulls could theoretically do so with, say, Otto Porter Jr.'s $28.5 million expiring salary, but it remains to be seen whether that transaction would stir the drink for either side. (Would the Cavaliers ask for a draft asset in addition to Porter? Another player?)

Should the Cavaliers choose to buy out Drummond, the Bulls, with a full 15-man roster, would need to release a player and eat their remaining salary to squeeze in Drummond. There would also figure to be stingy competition for his services among contending clubs in need of size in the frontcourt. Charania listed the Toronto Raptors as a team that has already engaged with the Cavaliers about a possible move for Drummond.

And all of that is before getting to what such a move would mean for the Bulls' frontcourt. Lauri Markkanen and Wendell Carter Jr. have both again missed time due to injury this season, but Carter is back and Markkanen is due to return some time soon after the All-Star break. More size up front would certainly benefit the Bulls. But is Drummond taking a starting spot from Markkanen or Carter in what has been termed by management an evaluation year? If not, would he be amenable to the situation -- coming off the pine for a below-.500 team -- given how his Cavaliers tenure has borne out? Does he eat into Thad Young's minutes? Is all of this worth it for a rental? All questions that would need answering if the Bulls' reported interest were to come to fruition.

In recent comments to reporters, Bulls executive vice president Artūras Karnišovas conveyed awareness that this season's deadline could be a seller's market, with an expanded playoff format leading to more teams believing they could make a run. He also centered the focus on improving the group the Bulls currently have in their building.

"I never look at player(s) as trade commodities," Karnišovas said. "Right now, we’re focused on winning games, because the separation between fourth and 10th place is a game-and-a-half. So this group is doing pretty well. I think now 12 or 13 are in (the playoff mix) in the East. So I just think teams are going to try to improve, and there’s not going to be a lot of sellers. So I think we’re just going to focus on our guys and how to get them better.”

The Bulls enter the All-Star break 10th in the Eastern Conference, which would place them in the last spot in the play-in (the Atlanta Hawks sit one game behind them in 11th). They're also just 1.5 games out of the No. 4 seed.

All of which is to say, a lot can change before March 25. Stay tuned.

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