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What to make of Bulls signing Andre Drummond

Will Gottlieb Avatar
July 1, 2022

We had to wait almost 4.5 hours for this.

The Bulls finally get in on the Free Agency fun and find themselves a backup big man in the form of a 29-year-old journeyman Andre Drummond.

Drummond found his footing as a depth piece last season between Brooklyn and Philadelphia, averaging 7.9 points per game and 9.3 rebounds in only 19.7 minutes per game.

Drummond may or may not be an empty calories guy, but his impact metrics really pop. He’s in the 95th percentile of steal percentage, 91st percentile in block percentage, and 99th in both offensive and defensive rebounding percentage. He’s even got some playmaking chops and can facilitate offense as a short-roll passer. Overall, the impact metrics rate him highly— his +1.5 EPM is in the 83rd percentile of the entire NBA.

His on/off splits have been a mixed bag throughout his career and that was proven true in both stops last season. While the Nets performed 1.8 points per 100 possessions better with him on the court compared to when he sat, the 76ers were -5.0.

Drummond is not the savior to all the Bulls problems, but he will be a *huge* upgrade from Tony Bradley and Tristan Thompson. He can be a decent drop coverage option with some potential to get to the level of the screen. Offensively, he puts pressure on the rim as a dive man. He rebounds the hell out of the ball. He won’t provide switching or spacing, but he’s a fine player when engaged. It’s the nature of the contract that is questionable.

Signing a two-year, $6.6 million contract, the Bulls dipped part-way into the mid-level exception. This leaves them with roughly $7.2 million of the mid-level remaining. But it remains to be seen how, or if, they spend the remainder.

If they do spend the remaining MLE, they will dip their toes into the luxury tax for the second time ever, although they can avoid penalty if they get under the tax before the end of the season. They could spend up to $6.6 million and still stay below the tax.

Notably, the Bulls gave Drummond a player option on the second year of his deal. They gave Tony Bradley the same thing last year, and now he’s going to be sitting on the bench taking up a roster spot and $2 million of the Bulls fragile cap sheet.

Did they even need to give Drummond more than the minimum? Why the option? Who were the Bulls competing with to sign their new backup center? Would it have been better to beat the Knicks 2-year, $16 million offer to Isaiah Hartenstein? Or sign Mike Muscala for the veteran’s minimum?

Though the Bulls did address their need for big man depth and rebounding, they still lack rim protection. They still need shooting, size on the wing, switchable defense, and more shooting. Now they’ll have limited funds to find those traits.

There is still time to do so. As such, fans need to be patient. The Bulls could still make a big splash in the form of a trade, but the free agency window is closing. With extremely limited options from the get go, pickings are even slimmer now. Danilo Gallinari is reportedly an option, but the Bulls will be fighting for his services. Cody and Caleb Martin remain high on my list. TJ Warren would be a home run. We’ll see how much the Bulls are able to do with their remaining portion of the mid-level exception.

My less-than-thrilled reaction to this deal has less to do with Drummond and more to do with the process. Drummond is a fine backup who fills some holes and adds quality depth. But I’m not sure he raises the floor of the team, let alone its ceiling. If the Front Office believes bringing in a backup center will elevate them from sixth seed/first-round out status, they may be in for a rude awakening.

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