NBA contenders in need of a frontcourt upgrade should pick up the phone and call the Cleveland Cavaliers ahead of Thursday's NBA trade deadline.
Chris Haynes of Yahoo! Sports reported Monday, citing league sources, that Cleveland Cavaliers forward Tristan Thompson "is available on the market."
The Cavaliers are a rebuilding franchise with no hope of reaching the playoffs in the Eastern Conference this season. They enter Monday night's games tied with the Atlanta Hawks for the second-worst record in the entire league.
Thompson will be an unrestricted free agent in July, and the Cavs would be smart to trade the 28-year-old veteran and not risk losing him for nothing. Haynes, citing sources, described the Cavs' approach as “asset accumulation mode," which definitely is the right mentality for Cleveland.
Making a trade for Thompson does pose some challenges, though. He doesn't shoot 3-pointers, so a contender like the Philadelphia 76ers that needs to upgrade its outside shooting shouldn't pursue him. Thompson also has a $18,539,130 salary cap hit, per Spotrac, so teams with limited cap space might have to get creative if they're interested in acquiring him.
What is to like about Thompson? He is a tremendous rebounder and reliably scores double-digits on a nightly basis. He's averaging 11.9 points and 10.4 rebounds per game, while shooting 50.8 percent from the floor. Thompson also has plenty of playoff experience, including four NBA Finals appearances from when LeBron James was leading the Cavaliers.
Should the Boston Celtics pursue him?
The Celtics certainly could use another center, especially a quality rebounder like Thompson. Veteran center Enes Kanter has filled his role tremendously well, but he's missed several games of late with a right hip contusion. It's also worth noting that second-year center Robert Williams has missed most of the season due to injury. Adding frontcourt depth to protect against injuries come playoff time would be a wise trade-deadline strategy for Boston.
The problem for the Celtics is Thompson makes a lot of money, and the C's don't have many salaries in the $10 million to $20 million range. Thompson also is a buyout candidate if the Cavs are unable to trade him, and it would be ideal for the C's to acquire him that way instead of giving up assets in a trade. The Celtics would be smart to have interest in Thompson, but only on the buyout market.