With Drummond's player option looming, Altman said he has been in touch with Drummond but that there haven't been detailed conversations about a long-term plan. Drummond is expected to arrive in Cleveland on Friday.
The Cavaliers traded guard Brandon Knight, forward John Henson and the lesser of Cleveland's and Golden State's 2023 second-round picks to acquire Drummond from the Detroit Pistons. He has a $28.75 million player option for the 2020-21 season, though, which means he could opt out and become a free agent this summer.
Altman feels Drummond is worth the gamble.
"For us, I think in terms of his age and what he brings to our team, absolutely we consider him a potential long-term play," Altman said in a conference call Friday. "Obviously he has a player option that, if he picks up, we think we're in good shape in terms of our cap space. There's no better money spent than Andre Drummond if he does pick up his player option.
"So I think with the player option or not, we have flexibility and optionality moving forward, but I think these next 30 games or so, he's really going to enjoy playing with our guards and Kevin Love as well, and we'll see."
After news of the trade broke, Drummond tweeted that he learned "there's no friends or loyalty" in the NBA and that he wasn't given a "heads up" about the deal.
However, Pistons senior adviser of basketball operations Ed Stefanski said he was in discussion with Drummond's representatives the entire time.
"Emotions are raw when this stuff happens," Stefanski told reporters during a Friday morning conference call. "I understand that."
Said Altman: "Of course it's going to be a shock when you get traded away from a team that you've been with for a very long time, but this is a new opportunity for him and I think it motivated Andre Drummond even more so than what he has been doing, which has been incredible."
Drummond, 26, is in the midst of a career season, averaging 17.8 points and 15.8 rebounds per game. Wilt Chamberlain, in 1964-65, is the only other player to average at least 15 points and 15 rebounds per game at the time of a midseason, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Drummond leads the league in rebounds per game and could become the first player to average 15 or more points and rebounds for three straight seasons since the NBA-ABA merger in 1976-77.
"Adding a talent of this magnitude is something that we couldn't pass up, and he also fits our timeline in terms of his age," Altman said. "He's 26 years old, so I think he fits with some of our younger guys and our timeline, so when the opportunity arose, we jumped on it, and here we are."
After eight seasons with Drummond in Detroit, Stefanski has said that the Pistons are looking to rebuild. This move cements an evolution in today's game.
"We're a copycat league, and right now the center position is not as valuable as it once was. I'm not saying that's about Dre, but that's just reality of what's happening right now," Stefanski said. "Regarding Dre's comments, the worst thing in the world is having to trade someone who's been here.
"This is the only place he's been. Emotions are raw," Stefanski added. "Dre knew he was in trade talks, and I was talking to his representatives about different things. Cleveland came in late, but I guess you'll have to talk to Dre about what exactly he means."