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Andre Drummond: I’d ‘absolutely’ love to be in Brooklyn next year

Charlotte Hornets v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

A day after he scored 20 points, grabbed 17 rebounds — seven offensive, and blocked three shots, Andre Drummond said he “absolutely” love to be back in Brooklyn but noted that nothing is certain ... and suggested earlier comments on his and Nic Claxton’s free agencies had been misinterpreted.

“Would I love to be here? Absolutely. Can I control that right now? No,” Drummond said after Nets shootaround Tuesday. “That’s f–ked up. Why y’all do me like that? You know I ain’t say nothing like that,” said Drummond, “You didn’t use the words that I said. You took what I said and twisted it. You guys are better than that. You know what I said.

“I don’t need to clear it up. You know what I said. I said based off my situation, I’m here for the rest of the season, we all know that. I said do I know what’s gonna happen in the summertime? Absolutely not. I only can control what’s happening right now…So for you guys to take that first part of my quote is not right, it’s not right. It’s not cool.”

Drummond, acquired in the blockbuster trade at the deadline with Philly, has been playing well for the Nets, particularly in tandem with Claxton. He’s an unrestricted free agent meaning the most the Nets can offer him is the taxpayers’ mid-level exception — roughly $12 million over two years.

Although Drummond said his comments five days ago had been misinterpreted, they certainly seemed definitive at the time.

“And if we’re all being honest, I’m only here til the rest of the season,” he said when discussing Claxton’s free agency. “So who knows what’s gonna happen in the offseason? So they need a guy like (Nic).”

However, the full quote included this line as well...

“I think that we need him,” Drummond said of Claxton. “We need him. I think he’s very, very beneficial for this team. He’s young still, a guy that can come in and help, can start, come off the bench. He can do a little bit of everything. With a guy like that that’s so versatile, why would you trade somebody like that?”

On Tuesday, he said the context of his earlier comments were important.

“If you’re gonna put the right quote out, make sure you put the right thing out,” he said. “Use the whole quote. Don’t use the first half. That’s not right because that’s unfair to me and the staff here, because I never used those words in that context, and you all know that. I said I respect Nic as a player, and I think it’s dumb for them to trade him because he still has two years left on his contract and we’re all aware of me being on a one-year. That’s evident. We know that.

“I said based off my situation, I’m here for the rest of the season, we all know that. I said, ‘Do I know what’s gonna happen in the summertime? Absolutely not. I only can control what’s happening right now.’ That’s what I used. So for you guys to take that first part of my quote is not right, it’s not right. It’s not cool.”

The 28-year-old is essentially averaging a double-double for the Nets over 17 games in Brooklyn, all starts: 12.2 points and 9.8 rebounds — 3.8 offensive — in 22.2 minutes. He’s also averaging a block a game and shooting 62.5 percent from the floor. He’s missed only two games since the February 10 trade that brought him Seth Curry and Ben Simmons to Brooklyn as well as two first rounders for James Harden and Paul Millsap.

And with LaMarcus Aldridge out with a hip issue since March 6, Drummond as well as Claxton have filled in admirably. In the 10 games since Aldridge last played, Drummond is averaging 14.9 points and 7.3 boards and provided stability at a time when the Nets needed it. Claxton is averaging 9.6 points, 6.0 rebounds and 1.4 blocks over the same stretch.

Drummond is the all-time NBA leader in rebound percentage at 21.63 and is 11th all-time in rebounds per game at 13.4. He’s also the leading active rebounder in the NBA. In fact, he’s the only active player in the top 20 of all-time rebounders.

He has become a fan favorite as well, particularly after this play vs the Heat on Saturday...

It even inspired this meme...

Drummond’s market will be a question mark until it isn’t in the off-season. He’s signed two straight vets minimum deals with the Lakers and 76ers after completing a five-year $130 million deal with the Pistons in 2021. What’s the issue, considering his numbers? Drummond has historically not been a good finisher at the rim and pure rebounders are not as valuable as they had once been. He is a unique player. Pistons fans will also note that Drummond never won a post-season game in his NBA career.

As for the Nets free agency upfront, Claxton is a restricted free agent meaning unlike Drummond, the Nets can pay him outside the salary cap.

Drummond is the second Nets starter in the last three days tp say he wants to return. Kyrie Irving, who could opt out of his contract in the summer, said he too wants to return for the long-term.