In basketball, there’s nothing more embarrassing than pulling out the box score and seeing “DNP”—an initialism for Did Not Play—next to your name. Especially when you’re not hindered by any specific injury and you’re statistically one of the best at your position in the entire league.
But that’s exactly what happened to Andre Drummond of the Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday. And during a spirited press conference after the game, Draymond Green had plenty to say about it.
“I would like to talk about something that’s really bothering me,” he said after the Warriors crushed the Cavs 129-98. “And it’s the treatment of players in this league. To watch Andre Drummond, before the game, sit on the sidelines, then go to the back, and to come out in street clothes because a team is going to trade him, it’s bullshit.”
While the Nets have a gaping hole in the middle and have struggled defensively all season—they miraculously transformed into the worst defensive team in the league after trading for James Harden’s musty beard—the Cavs have an embarrassment of riches at center. Between the offensive-minded Drummond and their younger, defensive stalwart Jarrett Allen—who the Nets left outside on the curb in the Harden deal—something had to give. So with the Cavs (10-19) opting to move forward with Allen as their starting center, the 28-year-old Drummond has been sentenced to an endless string of DNPs until he’s able to find a new suitor.
And Dray ain’t feeling that shit.
“When James Harden asked for a trade, and essentially dogged it, no one’s going to fight back that James was dogging it his last days in Houston, but he was castrated for wanting to go to a different team,” Green continued. “Everybody destroyed that man. And yet a team can come out and say, ‘Oh, we want to trade a guy,’ and then 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.”
I think we all get Dray’s point, but Harden isn’t exactly the best example when you’re making an argument founded on public perception and professionalism.
By all accounts, The Beard has been a model citizen since landing in Brooklyn. He’s apologized for his past grievances, sacrificed his game for the betterment of the team and Coach Kyrie even crowned him the team’s starting point guard. But prior to his being traded, Harden did just about everything humanly possible to destroy his trade value. Instead of being professional, he skipped out on training camp to literally go party with rappers, he showed up out of shape, he openly defied COVID-19 protocols—dude did everything short of pulling the pin out of a grenade and hurling it at his teammates.
Oh, wait. He did that too.
So while Dray thinks it’s unfair to bench Drummond—even though he could continue to play for a team that doesn’t want him, suffer a catastrophic injury and derail both his career and his trade value—how fair is it to Allen for Drummond to continue to steal his minutes? And how crazy would it look for a player of Drummond’s caliber to play only 10 minutes a night in a limited role that would diminish his value? Is that not insulting? The Cavs alluded to all of the above in speaking with ESPN: “[The Cavs] believe it’s unfair to Drummond to limit his minutes as the organization transitions to Allen.”
But again, Dray ain’t trying to hear it. He also pointed at Harrison Barnes—who was traded in the middle of a game—and Demarcus Cousins as further examples.
“At some point, as players, we need to be treated with the same respect,” Green said. “And have the same rights that the team can have. Because as a player, you’re the worst person in the world when you want a different situation. But a team can say they’re trading you. And that man is to stay in shape, he is to stay professional. And if not, his career is on the line. At some point, this league has to protect the players from embarrassment like that.”
Again, I get it. If I had to completely uproot my life at a moment’s notice, kids and all, and I don’t even have a say in my destination, I’m gonna be tight. I don’t give a shit how much you’re paying me. But if I’m Blake Griffin—who somehow has yet to dunk a single time this season and just entered the buyout market sweepstakes himself—I’d probably be relieved.
But Dray might be onto something.