CLEVELAND — The NBA trading deadline came and went. Andre Drummond didn’t move.
Unable to find a trade partner Thursday for the benched center, the Cavaliers will try to structure a contract buyout for the two-time All-Star, a person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because talks are ongoing.
Drummond hasn’t played since Feb. 12 and could wind up on a contending team after being pushed aside in Cleveland. The sides can agree to any financial figure for the buyout, but Drummond will likely get a prorated portion of the $28.7 million he’s due this season.
The Cavs were expected to be busy Thursday but only made one deal, agreeing to send veteran center JaVale McGeee to the Denver Nuggets for 22-year-old center Isaiah Hartenstein and two future second-round draft picks, a person familiar with the deal told AP.
The picks are in 2023 and 2027, said the person who spoke on condition of anonymity because the trade must be approved by the league.
Cleveland reportedly shopped forwards Cedi Osman and Taurean Prince but only made the deal involving McGee, who was kept out of Wednesday’s win at Chicago as trade talks began to heat up.
McGee was invaluable for the Cavs, providing quality minutes and serving as mentor to their young players. But while the three-time NBA champion will be missed in Cleveland, he’s joining a Denver team with a legitimate shot at dethroning the Los Angeles Lakers out West.
Hartenstein will assume McGee’s spot and back up Jarrett Allen, whose acquisition from Brooklyn in January led to the Cavs pulling Drummond from their rotation so they could develop a young center they view as a foundational player.
At the time, the Cavs thought the move — agreed to by Drummond — would lead to them trading the 27-year-old. However, his huge contract complicated things as Cleveland didn’t want to take on more money in order to move him.
Drummond’s unclear status has hung over the team for weeks and it’s created an awkward situation for coach J.B. Bickerstaff, who hasn’t had Kevin Love all season because of a calf injury and has been asked to develop players and try to win.
The Cavs have had an uneven season. They’re 17-27, but only 2.5 games behind the Bulls for the 10th spot in the Eastern Conference and the final play-in spot. Cleveland continues its road trip at the Lakers on Friday night.
Drummond, who has not spoken to the media since early February, can now leave Cleveland with a buyout and join a contender.
He’s been linked to several teams, including the Los Angeles Lakers, who could be in the market for some help with LeBron James and Anthony Davis currently sidelined with injuries.
Drummond came to the Cavs last season from the Pistons. He averaged 17.5 points and 12.9 rebounds in 33 games for Cleveland.