Draymond Green is totally right, but sitting Andre Drummond is still what’s best for Cleveland

Draymond Green teed off on the double-standard for players asking to be traded on Monday night.
Draymond Green teed off on the double-standard for players asking to be traded on Monday night.
Screenshot: ESPN

A pissed-off Draymond Green is one of the most insightful NBA minds we’re blessed to have.

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Following the Golden State Warriors’ 129-98 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday, Green eloquently commented on the Cavaliers’ decision to sit former All-Star center and desirable trade chip Andre Drummond to preserve his health. While it appears to be the smartest business move for the Cavaliers, it’s also grossly unfair to Drummond himself, Green said.

To watch Andre Drummond before the game sit on the sideline then go to the back and then come out in street clothes because the team is going to trade him is bullshit ... Because when James Harden asked for a trade and essentially dogged it … he was castrated for wanting to go to a different team and everybody destroyed that man. And yet a team could come out and say, ‘We want to trade that guy,’ and that guy has to go sit, and if he doesn’t stay professional, then he’s a cancer, and he’s not good in someone’s locker room, and he’s the issue.

We’ve seen situations of Harrison Barnes getting pulled off the bench, or DeMarcus Cousins finding out that he’s traded in an interview after the All-Star game, and we continue to let this happen. But I got fined for stating my opinion about what I thought should happen with another player. But teams could come out and continue to say, ‘We’re trading guys, we’re not playing you.’ And yet, we’re to stay professional. At some point, as players, we need to be treated with the same respect and have the same rights that the team could have.

According to an ESPN report, Cavaliers’ head coach J.B. Bickerstaff said Drummond wasn’t with the team Wednesday, and he isn’t expected to play tonight against the Denver Nuggets. Drummond is due $28.7 million this season and is on an expiring contract.

“Nobody’s opinion should be muted,” Bickerstaff said Wednesday. “Obviously there’s conversations that we’ve had with our guys as far as this process goes that everybody’s not privy to. But again, guys have a right to speak their voice, and organizations have to do what’s best for the organization. I think that’s kind of how it works, and it shouldn’t be a two-way street, so to speak.”

The decision to sit Drummond and play recent acquisition Jarrett Allen is one worthy of criticism from the players’ side, but it’s a call that is inarguably best for the Cavaliers if moving Drummond is a priority for them. Currently, the team is building around ‘Sexland,’ a.k.a. Collin Sexton and Darius Garland, the young backcourt with a median age of 22.5.

Through 24 games this season, Sexton is averaging 22.8 points and 4.3 assists while shooting 48.4 percent from the field, over 40 percent from three, and 80 percent on free throws. The third-year guard, who would’ve likely earned Most Improved Player consideration if the Cavs remained respectable, also has 1.5 win shares, second only to Allen on the team. When your squad is only 10-19, 1.5 win shares is pretty damn significant.

In 21 games, including 18 starts, Garland is posting 15.9 points and 5.3 assists while netting over 45 percent from the field, 40 percent from deep, and over 90 percent on free throws. The second-year point guard has averaged over 17 points and five assists per game over his last 11 appearances. And the aforementioned Allen, who has now played 16 games with Cleveland, has a team-high offensive rating of 131 while posting 13.2 points, 7.9 rebounds, and 1.7 blocks since arriving from Brooklyn. He’s also shot over 62 percent with the Cavs while only recording five starts, though he’s now an everyday opener with Drummond off to the side.

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Those three highlight the Cavs young nucleus, which also includes rookie starter Issac Okoro and young swingman Cedi Osman. Larry Nance Jr is 28-years-old, but he’s signed through 2023 at a team-friendly deal, making him a core piece at least temporarily. Drummond’s best place is elsewhere as the Cavs seek to obtain compensation for what’s best organizationally, and they’re entitled to do so.

It also doesn’t make Green incorrect, it only validates his concerns even further. Players are continually villainized for wanting better situations for themselves, wanting to express their feelings, share their observations, but others make a concerted effort to hold them back from doing so. Or, they use the opening to devalue and denigrate them.

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Ideally for Drummond, in any case, he’ll be on a contending team soon enough.