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Rumor: Hornets interested in Pistons’ Andre Drummond

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The Charlotte Hornets are eyeing a new center for the future, zoning into Detroit Pistons big man Andre Drummond, who they could acquire via trade or as a free agent next season.

Drummond could receive a hefty $28.7 million check by opting into his player option, but his market has never been higher, especially after leading the league in rebounding for the third straight season and the fourth time in the last five.

His average of a monstrous 16.8 rebounds per game is far and away the best in the league in 2019-20, and he’s consistently been either first or second in that category since becoming a starter in 2013.

The Pistons are off to a disappointing 4-10 start and could also consider trading him if their season doesn’t progress after getting Blake Griffin back from injury.

“He’ll be a priority there,” a league executive told Sean Deveney of Heavy.com. “It’s just a matter of whether they make him a priority now and give up something to get him or try to make the move later. It’s a very cautious group, Mitch Kupchak and those guys. But they might want to get this guy into the fold sooner rather than later, there’s just a lot of incentive there on both sides.”

Pistons owner Tom Gores has called Drummond his top priority in free agency, but the Connecticut standout has made it clear that he intends to test free agency, even if he wounds up re-signing with the Pistons.

The Hornets will have a bevy of contracts coming off the books after the 2019-20 season, including Bismack Biyombo, Marvin Williams, and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist — a trio that is making $45 million this season.

The Hornets could be lining up an offer for Drummond and could have one ready for him by the start of free agency.

The 6-foot-10 center has become a nightly double-double monster and has greatly improved as a free-throw shooter, no longer a liability from the foul line. He’s shooting his free throws at a career-best 69.4%,

Drummond is posting career highs across the line, with 18.6 points, 16.8 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 1.6 steals, and 2.1 blocks per game. It’s sure to say that whatever offer the Hornets have in mind, it better be a gaudy one — whether that is by trading or signing him to a free agent deal.