Andre Drummond

Bulls' Andre Drummond talks ‘Hack-A-Drummond' strategy, his future

12-year veteran, having a strong season, can be an unrestricted free agent this offseason

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Presented by Nationwide Insurance Agent Jeff Vukovich

The Chicago Bulls return from the All-Star break for a Tuesday afternoon practice in advance of Thursday’s home matchup against the NBA-leading Boston Celtics.

It’s the first meeting between the teams since Nov. 28., perhaps the low point of the season. Not only did the Bulls look disengaged throughout a 124-97 throttling that dropped them to 5-14, Zach LaVine scored just two points on 1-for-9 shooting and left early with a sore right foot that, just over two months later, required season-ending surgery.

The game also featured Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla employing the intentional foul strategy despite a blowout margin victory, all in the name of chasing point differential for the inaugural In-Season Tournament.

Bulls coach Billy Donovan took exception to Mazzulla’s tactics, saying the Hack-A-Drummond decision embarrassed a proud veteran in Andre Drummond. Mazzulla later apologized to both Donovan and Drummond.

But Drummond, in his first comments about the incident, said he had no problem with Mazzulla’s tactics.

“It didn’t piss me off. I told him this too when he came and apologized to me after the game. I said. ‘You did what you were supposed to do. You were trying to win a basketball game. I gotta make shots,’” Drummond said. “It’s not on him to spare me because I’m missing free throws. I have to do my job as a basketball player and make free shots. They’re called free throws. I took it personally and honed in on those shots.”

Drummond missed five of six that night, forcing Donovan to pull him with 5 minutes, 57 seconds left. It’s also perhaps the low point of a very strong season for Drummond, whom the Bulls chose not to trade at the deadline despite the fact he can become an unrestricted free agent.

Drummond, who surprised some by picking up his player option for this season, is in the final year of his two-year, $6.6 million deal that he has largely outplayed.

“I’m excited to see what happens in the offseason. Whatever team sees me as an asset, I’m ready. Obviously, I’m here now and I love it here. I would love to be here still,” Drummond said. “That’s why my main focus is on finishing out the year strong and making some noise in the playoffs.”

Drummond is averaging 8.1 points and 8.6 rebounds in just 16.7 minutes per game. His per-36 minute average of 18.6 rebounds is the second-best of his 12-year career, trailing only last season’s 18.8 per-36 minute average. That’s no small feat for a four-time rebounding champion.

And Drummond has averaged 13.8 points and 17 rebounds in nine starts, which is one reason why Donovan is suddenly leaning into his double-big lineup pairing Drummond alongside Nikola Vucevic. Not bad for a player still only shooting 55.6 percent from the free-throw line, which is actually well above his career percentage of 47.8.

“I can play another eight to 10 years if I want to. I haven’t lost a step. It’s just opportunities I need to get,” Drummond said. “I love playing. I love winning. I’m looking forward to finishing the season strong.”

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