Andre Drummond is now the Los Angeles Lakers' starting center, and the story all somehow leads back to James Harden.
More specifically, Drummond's ultimate Hollywood destination is merely one ripple effect from the four-team swap that sent Harden to Brooklyn in January. And with the NBA's buzzy trade deadline having come and gone, impact players from Drummond to Victor Oladipo are now scattered across the league, seeming to stretch the tentacles of the Nets' Harden blockbuster even further through this weird season and its ever-contested championship.
The Beginning of the End in Cleveland
Drummond would likely still be starting in Cleveland if the Cavaliers weren't surprisingly roped into the now-notorious megadeal with the Nets, Rockets and Pacers.
By all accounts, Cavs general manager Koby Altman's front office had little inkling Jarrett Allen would become available to them at the start of this calendar year. Dating back to when Cleveland acquired Drummond before the 2020 deadline, the Cavs planned to spend little in free agency this past offseason. The plan was to continue growing the young backcourt duo of Darius Garland and Collin Sexton with an elite rebounding big man, introduce a potential swing piece on the wing in No. 5 pick Isaac Okoro, then enter 2021 free agency with a developing core plus some money to spend.
Then Houston called. The Rockets never projected much interest in keeping Allen or Caris LeVert, league sources told Bleacher Report. Rafael Stone's new regime sought all along to find additional new homes for both former Nets players as the trade framework with Brooklyn materialized.
Instead of LeVert, Houston targeted Oladipo, curious if the former All-NBA star could recapture his previous magic. If the Oladipo experiment failed, they bet he'd still draw more before this deadline than LeVert.
The Rockets did not foresee Allen, meanwhile, as a viable long-term frontcourt counterpart to Christian Wood. Thus, Cleveland was able to essentially acquire Allen for the low price of Milwaukee's 2022 first-round pick.