Andre Drummond has elected not to sign a long-term extension with the Detroit Pistons before next month’s deadline in a partnership with the team to increase salary-cap space, coach and team president Stan Van Gundy said Tuesday.
Drummond was a strong candidate to sign up to a five-year, $120 million maximum contract extension by the Nov. 2 deadline. But after consulting with the team, he will delay making any commitment until next July, when he will become an unrestricted free agent.
The move will allow the Pistons to enter free agency with nearly $13 million in additional salary-cap space next summer than if Drummond had signed a max contract extension now. It’s a mechanism that will allow the Pistons to sign other players and then use their Bird rights to sign Drummond. Had Drummond agreed to the extension now, the Pistons would have to include the new salary on their books going into free agency.
Several players on the roster have nonguaranteed contracts for next season, but this move would potentially allow the Pistons to create more than $30 million to use on free agents and then still be able to sign Drummond.
Last year the Pistons lost valued big man Greg Monroe when he elected not to accept a long-term offer from the team and eventually left in free agency. This situation, however, is different because both sides have agreed to this plan. Van Gundy said owner Tom Gores consulted with Drummond on the decision.
“Andre wants to be here long-term,” Van Gundy told reporters in Detroit. “He wants us to have the flexibility to continue to add people to this team.” This understanding mimics a move the San Antonio Spurs did with star Kawhi Leonard a year ago. Leonard also delayed his signing, and that bit of cap management allowed the Spurs to free up enough cap space to sign free agent LaMarcus Aldridge. Once Aldridge was officially signed, Leonard then signed a five-year, $90 million max contract extension.
“Every player says I’m all about winning,” Van Gundy told reporters. “This guy is proving it.” Drummond averaged 13.8 points and 13.5 rebounds last season. He has only missed one game in the past two seasons.
The Pistons have retrofitted their roster this summer to cater to Drummond, acquiring several shooting specialists aimed at creating more space for him on the interior. With Monroe’s departure, these changes may enable his statistics to shoot up, and he’s considered an early candidate for most improved player.