The Detroit Pistons enter the 2017-18 NBA season with tons of questions left unanswered, one of which is the future of star big man Andre Drummond. The one-time All-Star big man has been mentioned as a potential trade candidate after a significant drop-off in his production during the 2016-17 NBA season. Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press had a chance to talk with scouts around the league, and most of the feedback for Drummond was still positive.

Still high on Drummond

A year after putting up All-Star numbers (16.2 PPG on 52FG% and 14.8 RPG), Drummond’s numbers took a bump last year as he averaged 13.6 PPG on 53FG% and 13.8 RPG.

Pistons head coach and executive Stan Van Gundy also criticized the big man for his lack of urgency and commitment in protecting the rim.

The coach’s frustration with his starting center even led to speculations about a potential trade involving Drummond. In fact, several NBA insiders confirmed that the Pistons indeed shopped Drummond and point guard Reggie Jackson for unbelievably steep asking prices.

As Drummond enters his sixth NBA season, Ellis said scouts and coaches are still optimistic about the big man’s potential despite coming off a lost season. The long-time NBA writer added, per source, that teams are confident Drummond will eventually reach his full potential and they don’t seem reluctant to take on the player’s massive contract ($105M over four years).

Ellis mentioned two teams that can possibly make a run at Drummond if he hits the trading block. The first team is the New York Knicks, because of his connection to GM Scott Perry, who reportedly lobbied to pick Drummond at No. 9 in the 2012 NBA Draft during his tenure as assistant GM in Detroit. The other potential suitor is Clippers executive VP Lawrence Frank, who was Drummond’s first coach in his rookie year.

Clippers potential coup

Of the two teams, the Clippers seem to be an intriguing destination for Drummond. The Clips are entering the first year of post-Chris Paul era, and All-Star power forward Blake Griffin and center DeAndre Jordan have now stepped in as the team’s leaders.

However, the Clippers’ starting front-court faces uncertainty next summer, when Jordan gets the opportunity to opt out.

The high-flying center is set to earn $24M, but opting out allows him to sign a longer and more lucrative deal. The Clippers are going to have a hard time signing Jordan to a long-term max contract because of their current payroll situation. That said, the scenario of losing an All-Star caliber center for nothing could compel the Clippers to find an alternative on the trading market. Drummond happens to be the best option at center spot.

Although Drummond is playing on a max deal, the Pistons big man’s $25M per year base salary will be a lot cheaper compared to the amount of money Jordan will command in free-agency ($30 million average salary per year). Drummond is also five years younger than the 29-year old Jordan, and while both are poor free-throw shooter, the former has a better face-up game.

As for the Pistons, there are also incentives to pull off a Drummond for Jordan swap. For the first time since his time with Dwight Howard, Van Gundy will have a super-athletic big man with the ability to draw multiple defenders and free up shooters around him. Should Jordan bolt after this season, the Pistons will still get some cap relief and some cap space to pursue a young prospect or rotation player.