Cavs general manager Koby Altman is trying hard to shed the contracts of Tristan Thompson (two years, $36 million remaining) and J.R. Smith ($14.7 million next season, team option worth $15.6 million in 2019-20 with $3.8 million guaranteed), two players who were re-signed in large part because of LeBron’s omnipresent influence. They’re all represented by Rich Paul of Klutch Sports, who built the agency with a huge assist from James.
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Now in their fourth season since James returned, is mental fatigue taking a toll on the Cavs? Sam Amick: It’s a whole lot more complicated than the fatigue factor, and it has everything to do with the layers of dysfunction that the Cavs are battling. Cavs general manager Koby Altman is trying hard to shed the contracts of Tristan Thompson (two years, $36 million remaining) and J.R. Smith ($14.7 million next season, team option worth $15.6 million in 2019-20 with $3.8 million guaranteed), two players who were re-signed in large part because of LeBron’s omnipresent influence. They’re all represented by Rich Paul of Klutch Sports, who built the agency with a huge assist from James. As it pertains to the Cavs’ interest in the Clippers’ DeAndre Jordan, a person with knowledge of that situation said Cleveland continues to offer only its own first-round pick and this kind of unwanted money in those stalled negotiations. The person spoke to USA TODAY Sports on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation.
League sources told Cleveland.com weeks ago that the Cavs would consider trading him to the Clippers as a part of a deal to bring DeAndre Jordan to Cleveland. Similar reports resurfaced Friday. “It doesn’t bother me at all,” Thompson said. “At the end of the day you only control what you can control. That’s when coach calls me in the game, go out and play hard and compete. That business side, people get paid to do that stuff. I get paid to be out there on the court and compete and do my job. Guys get paid to make decisions and move pieces around.
“For me, seven years in the league and seeing guys get traded and just understanding the business of basketball, it doesn’t faze me at all,” he said. “I know what I need to do, just play and be myself.”
As teams pick up trade activity before the trade deadline, the Cavaliers are shaping up to be perhaps the most fascinating contending team. They have two first-round draft picks — including the heralded Brooklyn Nets’ selection via the Irving trade — but the superstar player whom the franchise could pursue with that pick has not been made available. Multiple NBA teams have cited Tristan Thompson as an asset Cleveland is willing to move in the right deal, such as one for the Los Angeles Clippers’ DeAndre Jordan.
Cleveland has been linked to the Clippers’ DeAndre Jordan and Memphis’ Marc Gasol, but one source said any such deal is still a way off. The primary bait the Cavaliers could offer would be center Tristan Thompson, who has been dealing with a calf injury and has lost his spot as a starter.
The Cavs have been linked in recent days to the Clippers’ DeAndre Jordan, another defensive big and who would help shore up that end of the floor. Like every other big man who’s name comes up in trade talks, they’ll be mentioned with Gasol. The trade pieces would revolve around Tristan Thompson, along with Iman Shumpert and Channing Frye. They own Brooklyn’s No. 1 pick in June’s draft, but aren’t expected to part with that because LeBron James could leave at season’s end and they’ll need the pick to rebuild.
Question: Would Cleveland entertain DeAndre Jordan for the Nets pick and Tristan Thompson? Joe Vardon: DeAndre Jordan’s numbers are down this season. He’s averaging 10.4 points and shooting .664 from the field (he only shoots twos). Even his blocks — 1.2 per game — are down from the 1.7 he averaged a year ago. Also, Jordan, 29, has a $24.1 million player’s option in his contract for next season. So, he could essentially be a rental. That said, you’re right, he’d thrive playing alongside LeBron James and Isaiah Thomas. Tristan Thompson was great against the Warriors in the Finals two seasons ago, and struggled mightily last year. A league source believes this move, Jordan for Thompson, is one the Cavs would consider. How the Brooklyn pick figured in remains to be seen (Cleveland also has its own No. 1 pick), but if the Cavs felt Jordan was the only piece missing for them to take down the Warriors they’d have to consider this.
The New York Knicks sought Tristan Thompson in a potential trade for Carmelo Anthony with the Cavaliers and were rebuffed, two sources told cleveland.com. The Knicks wanted Thompson, 26, a center who like James is represented by Rich Paul. The Cavs told them no. Thompson is under contract for three more seasons, beginning at $16.4 million this year. Cleveland was willing to do a deal that would’ve cleared some contracts off the books, such as sending Iman Shumpert ($11 million this year) and others.
Is Tristan Thompson’s underwhelming Finals performance an indicator that they should move on from him? Do the Cavs ask themselves what good is having a player play such a big role on your team the entire season if his game isn’t suited to the gauntlet that Golden State puts you in? One agent suggested that the Thompson deal is not tradable even if they wanted to, saying, “The game is changing on those real limited offensive guys unless he’s getting 15 boards and/or blocking shots. He’s a non-factor.”
ESPN Cleveland: Windhorst: Tristan Thompson is more unmovable than Kevin Love, in my opinion but Love isn’t a player you can easily find. #Cavs
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February 21, 2018 | 5:38 pm EST Update
Rick Noland: Larry Nance Jr on jersey number: I’m 24 right now. We’ll revisit it in the summer. With everything that just happened so fast, I wasn’t about to go to Cavs management and say, ‘Hey, what would you think about 22 now?’
Rick Noland: Larry Nance Jr. on dunk contest: Those are moments that I don’t know if any father and son have ever had. To me, that’s the coolest part of it all. I’m already having several pictures blown up to be framed.