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Report: Raptors and Cavaliers engaged in trade talks for Andre Drummond

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The Cavaliers have no plans to play Drummond going forward and the Raptors are on the shortest of shortlists for a landing spot.

Toronto Raptors v Detroit Pistons Photo by Chris Schwegler/NBAE via Getty Images

With the Aron Baynes era looking decidedly underwhelming and Alex Len already shipped out of town, we know the Toronto Raptors are in need of some centre depth. Chris Boucher has been a diamond in the rough, but this team desperately needs a bruising body who can score in tight spaces.

Enter Andre Drummond. Long an obvious target of the Raptors simply due to his availability / lack of fit on the current Cavaliers roster, it appears this morning that his days in wine and gold are coming to an end — with the Raptors at the top of the list for possible destinations.

The Athletic’s Shams Charania is reporting that the Raptors and Cavaliers are engaged in trade talks around Drummond.

This pairs with reporting from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Brian Windhorst, who say that Drummond will no longer be on the Cavs active roster as the team transitions to Jarrett Allen as their centre of the future (good choice).

(For what it’s worth, Wojnarowski is also reporting that no team has emerged as a favourite for a Drummond trade.)

In 25 outings this season, Drummond is averaging 17.5 points and 13.5 rebounds per game.

A trade for Drummond has its share of downsides. The centre is on an expiring contract and commands upwards of $27-million in outgoing contracts in a trade. This means Toronto has to include some substance in any deal, with Norman Powell as the most likely rotation player to be the figurehead of a package. As pointed out by The Athletic’s Blake Murphy, not including Powell — assuming that Fred VanVleet, Kyle Lowry, Pascal Siakam, and OG Anunoby are rightfully off limits — in an outgoing deal means Toronto has to send five players to Cleveland, which is problematic in itself for a team already struggling with lack of useful depth.

Here’s where I’ll say my piece: the Raptors may need a centre, but shipping out Powell for Drummond on an expiring contract feels like a huge mistake at this juncture of the season. Norm has proven his worth with Anunoby out of the lineup over the past two weeks, emerging as a crucial offensive player in a starting lineup that has pushed the team to the NBA’s sixth-best offense by rating. He’s also on one of the most valuable contracts in the league; a guy with his production making less than $11-million per year is an enormous jewel in a trade package. Wasting it on six months of Andre Drummond, whose motor has been a question mark since he came into the league, is a kind of rare overpay you don’t normally see Masai Ujiri and Bobby Webster make. There’s a reason Ujiri famously told Jonas Valanciunas that he was “way better than Drummond” in 2017 — Valanciunas had to grind to improve and find his niche in the league; the same can’t be said for Drummond.

Then again, the Raptors do need a centre, and have been left in an awful spot since losing out on Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka in quick succession in the off-season. This could just be the going rate when you need a usable fifth player in your starting lineup.

We’ll see how talks progress.