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Friday, May 14, 2021

Sources: Cavs won’t play Drummond amid talks

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  • Adrian Wojnarowski

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    Senior NBA Insider

    • Host of The Woj Pod
    • Joined ESPN in 2017
  • Brian Windhorst

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    ESPN Senior Writer

    • ESPN.com NBA writer since 2010
    • Covered Cleveland Cavs for seven years
    • Author of two books

The Cleveland Cavaliers are no longer planning to play Andre Drummond as they work to trade the two-time All-Star center before the NBA’s March 25 deadline.

The Cavaliers are moving to make Jarrett Allen the franchise’s long-term starting center and believe it’s unfair to Drummond to limit his minutes as the organization transitions to Allen, sources told ESPN.

Cavaliers general manager Koby Altman discussed the move with Drummond and his agent, Jeff Schwartz of Excel Sports, and decided together that Drummond would remain with the team but would no longer be active for games, sources said.

Cleveland is starting to gauge the trade market, but there are no serious ongoing discussions with any team, sources told ESPN.

Coach J.B. Bickerstaff acknowledged the decision to sit Drummond on Monday.

“Sometimes you’re forced into difficult positions that’s not easy to navigate, but in respect to Dre and all that he’s done and accomplished and as much as he’s helped us, we thought this was the fairest thing to do for him,” Bickerstaff said before the Cavs closed out a road trip Monday night at Golden State.

Bickerstaff said the Cavs will decide if Drummond will remain around his teammates amid trade talks in the coming days.

Drummond didn’t dress for the Cavaliers’ loss to the LA Clippers on Sunday night, and that continued against the Golden State Warriors on Monday. The Cavs said Drummond missed Sunday’s game for rest, and he came to the game wearing a sweatshirt with the word “farewell” on the front.

When reached on Monday morning, Schwartz wouldn’t confirm or deny the decision, but told ESPN: “Whichever direction this goes, Andre is 27, in his prime, and I believe strongly that he has a great deal to add to a team building toward a postseason run.”

Drummond is playing on a $28.7 million expiring contract, which does make matching up salaries in a trade something of a formidable challenge. He has averaged 17.5 points and 13.5 rebounds this season in 25 starts. A number of teams are interested in the 7-footer, sources said.

The Cavaliers would need to take back $23 million in contracts to make a Drummond trade work.

There has been no discussion on a contract buyout that could allow Drummond to become a free agent, sources said.

Drummond’s future with the Cavs dimmed last month when Cleveland traded for the 22-year-old Allen, who became the franchise’s center of the future. Drummond will be an unrestricted free agent after the season, and Allen will be a restricted free agent.

Allen has played well in 15 games with the Cavs, averaging 13.2 points, 7.5 rebounds and 1.7 blocks. Cleveland coach JB Bickerstaff recently moved Allen into the starting lineup.

A multigame experiment playing Drummond and Allen together was unsuccessful, as the Cavs nosedived into a slump that includes their current seven-game losing streak. Kevin Love, who has been out since December with a calf injury, is expected to return this week and further tighten the Cavs’ frontcourt minutes.

“A lot of our early success was on his back — on both ends of the floor,” Bickerstaff said. “We tried to make it work to the extent of trying to play those guys together, but it just didn’t work out. And again it’s not easy, more so than the basketball, the human-being aspect of it, because I genuinely care about Dre and have a good relationship with him, and so that makes it even more difficult.”

ESPN’s Bobby Marks and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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