Speculation: Should the Toronto Raptors trade for Andre Drummond?

Photo credit: Tony Dejak / AP

After Karl-Anthony Towns feasted on the Toronto Raptors’ interior defence Sunday evening, the rumours have began intensifying surrounding the team’s need for a big man.

Per Shams Charania of The Athletic, the Raptors are currently engaged in trade talks for Cleveland Cavaliers big man Andre Drummond. While reports do indicate they have been exploratory conversations only, trades in the NBA can evolve quickly.

Adrian Wojnarowski also reports that Drummond has been removed from the Cavaliers’ lineup in order to mitigate injury risk and facilitate a trade, as the Cavaliers are firmly committing to newly-acquired Jarrett Allen as the team’s starter going forward. Woj and TSN’s Josh Lewenberg have since reported that there are no serious conversations with the Raptors — or any team! — so who knows!

This begs the question, though: does it make sense for the Toronto Raptors to pull the trigger on such a deal? How would a trade of this scale work? We’ve examined three of the biggest factors in a potential Drummond trade below:

Salary Matching

In order for the Raptors to make a trade work for Andre Drummond, there would be some serious salary maneuvering involved. Drummond owns a 28.7 million dollar cap hit in the final year of his contract and the Raptors don’t have any contracts of that size they would seriously consider trading.

Outside of a large multi-team trade, the only way the Raptors can make a deal of this caliber work is to include Norman Powell, Aron Baynes, and a collection of two or three additional expiring contracts. In order to just get to matching salaries, the Raptors would likely be giving up more value than they receive in return. At a certain point, it leads to diminishing returns and the Raptors will need to tread lightly when considering such a deal.

Floor Spacing

Another important factor to consider is the spacing with Pascal Siakam on the floor. Despite Siakam having somewhat of a resurgence with his three-point shooting as of late, he is still going to score the majority of his points near the basket on drives.

Andre Drummond is a player who lives in the paint and that he would be occupying that space on the floor would cause issues for Siakam just as he’s turned it around. With lots of congestion in the paint, Siakam won’t be able to get clean shots. He’s had more success in smaller lineups next to Chris Boucher, or when Siakam is slotted in at center, and the fit next to Drummond would be a question mark.

Defensive Impact

One area that Drummond vastly improves the Raptors as a team is rebounding, which is largely where the intrigue of these trade rumours lie. The Raptors are ranked 28th in the league in defensive rebounding rate and a player of Drummond’s calibre would certainly improve that mark.

That being said, Drummond’s defensive rating this season is 113.2, in comparison to Aron Baynes’ 113.7. Both are similar in that they are big bodies to guard the paint, yet too slow to be guarding at the perimeter or in pick-and-roll. The Raptors would improve defensively with Drummond over Baynes by closing out possessions and improving the rebounding, but the impact may not be enough to move the needle the way the Raptors need it to.

The Verdict: Should They Do It?

No. At least not without some draft picks coming back their way.

While it would certainly be a flashy name to bring onto the team, and he does significantly improve the team’s woeful rebounding situation, the issue of fit remains.

Andre Drummond has a net rating of minus-7.8 on the season and a below-average true shooting percentage of 50.0, and the fact that the Cavaliers have been a better team with him on the bench versus on the court may be telling as to why they want to trade him in the first place.

While the Raptors do need an upgrade at the center position, and a deal for Drummond would be intriguing from a big-name perspective, they should not be looking to give up assets of any kind for his services, and are better served looking elsewhere for such a move.

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