NBA Rumor: Tristan Thompson Trade?

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The Sacramento Kings announced today that the team has acquired center-forward Tristan Thompson from the Boston Celtics as part of a three-team trade that will send guard Delon Wright to the Atlanta Hawks. During the 2020-21 season, Thompson averaged 7.6 points (.518 FG%), 8.1 rebounds, 1.2 assists and 23.8 minutes per game in 54 games (43 starts). A 10-year NBA veteran, the Texas product has garnered career averages of 9.3 points (.518 FG%), 8.7 rebounds, 1.0 assists and 27.7 minutes per game in 673 games (472 starts) with the Cleveland Cavaliers (2011-12 – 2019-20) and Boston Celtics (2020-21).

Late Saturday evening, I received a flurry of texts from multiple executives around the league who said the Celtics were up to something. What they’re up to is unclear, but league sources have long said Boston is searching for upgrades to bolster its wing and big man position. Tristan Thompson became trade eligible this weekend, and with a $9.3 million salary, he could be a perfect fit for a deal. So could Daniel Theis with his expiring $5 million contract.

The pair has spent the past six seasons together, bringing a championship to the city of Cleveland and acting as the anchor for a rebuilding Cavs’ team. They have seen the gamut of success in their franchise, together. Their locker room banter might have seen its last days. But it wouldn’t be the end for the two. “I mean, that’s my brother, man. I would always go to war with him,” Love said at Wednesday’s shootaround. “I would run through a wall for him. He’s the best. Just the type of guy he is, he’s a lifelong friend of mine, so it would be tough to see him go. Obviously I would like to have him around selfishly, but if there’s a better situation out there for him, going to make him happier, have a chance to win a championship, then so be it. I only know Tristan Thompson as a Cavalier and I like it that way.”

There’s one name that’s getting the most buzz: Thompson. “That’s my brother, man,” Love said. “I would always go to war with him. I would run through a wall for him. He’s the best. Just the type of guy he is, he’s a lifelong friend of mine, so it would be tough to see him go. I would like to have him around selfishly, but if there’s a better situation out there for him, going to make him happier, have a chance to win a championship, then so be it. I only know Tristan Thompson as a Cavalier and I like it that way.”

Cavaliers keeping Tristan Thompson?

Cleveland, sources say, still has an interest in re-signing him, but is hesitant to give him a second massive deal in the range of his first one that paid him $82 million over five years. This is the last year of that pact. Thompson’s camp wants him traded — in part because the team that adds him also gets “Bird” rights, which could lead to a more lucrative contract this summer. The team with his Bird rights can go over the cap to re-sign him, so a trade now doesn’t have to be a rental.

Tristan Thompson wants out of Cleveland

But in Thompson’s case, the 28-year-old seemed conditioned to not only be the sage, elder statesman who would hold the hands of the Cavs’ teenagers and much younger 20-somethings through a second year of a rebuild. He was also interested in a contract extension that might keep him there much longer. That has changed. Thompson’s camp wants him traded by Thursday’s deadline. The people close to him are calling it a “priority.”

Clippers interested in Thompson, Love and Dedmon

The Clippers have been aggressive, no surprise considering they have the $11.5 million Mo Harkless contract and a first round pick to deal. Considering if LA doesn’t trade the pick it can’t deal another one until we colonize Mars, there is some urgency in the LA front office to get a deal done. The Clippers have kicked the tires on Kevin Love and could grab disgruntled Kings center Dewayne Dedmon, but neither are preferred options. There is some interest in Tristan Thompson in LA’s front office, per sources, as LA’s coaching staff has fretted about the team’s rebounding, particularly when Ivica Zubac is off the floor. Wing depth is a consideration for the Clippers, with Robert Covington and Iguodala among the possibilities discussed.

Tristan Thompson on the block

Cleveland Cavaliers forward Tristan Thompson is available on the market with the Feb. 6 trade deadline approaching, league sources told Yahoo Sports. Thompson, 28, would be an ideal addition for a number of teams looking to bolster their roster with a defensive and rebounding presence for a serious playoff run, sources said. Sources said the Cavaliers are in “asset accumulation mode” after a 131-112 loss to Golden State at home on Saturday.

For lottery-bound groups, this time of year is brutally tough because the primary decision-makers have to do what’s best long term. More than a few guys in that locker room sense the organization wanting to make a big shakeup, that the front office is “trying to trade Kevin and Tristan.” While it’s their job to block out any noise and focus solely on basketball, they are also human. On top of that, losing is really hard, especially home blowouts against lousy teams. There is such a thing as an acceptable loss in a rebuilding season. Saturday night, however, was not one.

Keeping Thompson seems like the smart move. It makes sense to have a pillar like that anchoring this rebuild. It can’t be a roster filled with kids. Someone has to guide them. But multiple sources tell cleveland.com there haven’t been any conversations about a contract extension to this point. Of course, that could change in the coming weeks. In the meantime, the Cavs would listen to offers for Thompson. [….] I get the sense that Cleveland has set its internal price tag and it’s a first-rounder. Whether that offer actually comes will depend on other movement around the deadline.

Because of Thompson’s contract situation, his murky future and the many ways he can help a playoff contender, there’s been plenty of chatter about him being dealt ahead of the Feb. 6 deadline, especially if the Cavs get a first-round pick in return. That would be a substantial mistake. He’s too valuable. Losing him would be crushing, both in the short and long term. It’s one loss, in a season filled with them, the Cavs can’t afford.

Sources say the Cavs didn’t feel confident about their chances of getting a first-round pick for Clarkson in this market, so they took a pair of future seconds — a 2022 from San Antonio and a 2023 from Golden State, sources say. The move puts Cleveland about $5.1 million below the luxury tax threshold, which gives the team more financial flexibility when it comes to other deals. Make no mistake, more are coming between now and the trade deadline on Feb. 6. Players are already bracing for those shakeups.

Thompson is the piece the Cavs would most want to retain beyond this season. The organization loves him. Sources say they would be interested in making him part of this growing core. Thompson’s a great leader and role model for the young guys, someone who embodies what it means to be a Cavalier. Both Kevin Porter Jr. and Darius Garland have said they have no clue where the team would be in the first month-plus without Thompson and Kevin Love.

According to sources, there haven’t been any real conversations between Cleveland’s front office and Thompson’s camp about a contract extension — the other option in this debate. The current belief is Thompson’s camp wouldn’t want to commit right now, months from Thompson hitting free agency. You can understand why, especially given how he’s playing. That shouldn’t be taken as a sign that the Cavs — nor Thompson — are actually interested in continuing this partnership that began in 2011, making him and assistant general manager Mike Gansey the longest-tenured Cavs.

While Love is Cleveland’s most valuable trade chip, there are others. That list starts with five players on expiring contracts: Knight, Henson, Dellavedova, Tristan Thompson and Jordan Clarkson. “We are still in evaluation mode with our team, with the new parts, the staff and the offense. We like our guys,” Altman said. “There’s no sense of urgency to rush to do anything. I think last year was a little bit different in terms of we knew we wanted to recoup a lot of different draft assets. Where we are now: We have great flexibility, we’re one of four teams that has over $20 million in cap space next summer, so we’re not in any rush to do anything drastic.”

Thompson stands to make $18.5 million next season. That’s a big number to take on, even if it’s only for one year, because of the 2019 free-agent sweepstakes so many teams want to have salary-cap space for. Unless Thompson puts a team over the top, then it would probably make more sense for a team to trade for him next season. The Cavs want him around to shepherd younger players through the early stages of this rebuild. They’ll probably be able to get better assets in return for him at next year’s trade deadline. There’s also a chance the Cavs want Thompson long term, and could, therefore, keep him and offer him an extension over the summer. What he thinks: “Blake Griffin got traded. At the end of the day, if the trade is right and the pieces are guys they feel can help the franchise moving forward, I’m totally understanding. It’s a business. If you don’t have a no-trade clause, anything can happen.”

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.

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.

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.
4 years ago via ESPN

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.”
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