Cleveland Cavaliers

Paul Pierce makes case for Tristan Thompson to pursue buyout, Celtics

Paul Pierce makes case for Tristan Thompson to pursue buyout, Celtics

Tristan Thompson will not pursue a buyout from the Cleveland Cavaliers, but Boston Celtics legend Paul Pierce is hoping he changes his mind.

Pierce, who's now an NBA analyst on ESPN, made a case for Thompson on Thursday's episode of "The Jump" to pursue a buyout and ultimately join the Celtics ahead of the playoffs.

"Tristan, you are the one player who can put the Boston Celtics over the top," Pierce said. "Taking a couple extra less millions is worth it. I'm telling you, it's worth it."

Short and sweet from Pierce.

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It's possible Thompson could change his mind, and it probably would be the best decision for him.

He would lose some money if bought out, but he's finishing up a five-year, $82 million contract that ended up being an overpay by the Cavaliers. It's also worth noting Cleveland acquired a player very similar to Thompson in Andre Drummond before Thursday's NBA trade deadline. The Cavs dumped a few bad contracts to take Drummond from the Detroit Pistons in a trade that likely will benefit neither side.

Leaving the Cavs and playing for a contender would be a lot more exciting for Thompson through the end of the season. The alternative is playing 25 to 30 minutes for one of the worst teams in the league.

Thompson would likely play an important role on the Celtics. Boston would be wise to bolster its center depth on the buyout market, and Thompson's rebounding and interior defense would be valuable to the C's. Thompson also has plenty of playoff experience thanks to four NBA Finals appearances when the Cavs were led by LeBron James from 2014-15 through 2017-18.

Winners and losers of the NBA trade deadline

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NBA rumors: Could Celtics target Tristan Thompson on buyout market?

NBA rumors: Could Celtics target Tristan Thompson on buyout market?

The Boston Celtics didn't make a move ahead of Thursday's NBA trade deadline, but that doesn't mean their roster is completely finished.

The buyout market is the last place for contending teams to upgrade their rosters before the playoffs, and a few quality players could find themselves available in the coming weeks.

One of the most intriguing players who could be bought out is Cleveland Cavaliers center Tristan Thompson. The Cavs reportedly made Thompson available before the trade deadline but couldn't find a suitor for the 28-year-old center. Cleveland made a surprising move before the deadline to acquire Detroit Pistons center Andre Drummond, who's pretty similar to Thompson skill-wise. Therefore, Drummond's presence makes Thompson pretty expendable.

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Would the Celtics be interested in Thompson if he's bought out? ESPN's Brian Windhorst discussed that scenario during Thursday's episode of "The Jump".

A buyout of Thompson is not guaranteed, however. The Athletic's David Aldridge reported Thursday that Thompson won't be bought out. It's worth noting things could change, but the decision ultimately is Cleveland's.

Thompson is averaging 11.9 points and 10.4 rebounds per game for the Cavaliers this season. He's a very good rebounder, he's a quality interior defender, and he would give the Celtics another big body to defend the likes of Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid in a potential playoff series. 

The Celtics don't have a glaring weakness on their roster, and that's why not making a trade before Thursday's deadline isn't a huge deal. Adding some depth in the frontcourt through the buyout wouldn't hurt, though, and Thompson would be an ideal target for Boston if he becomes available.

NBA trade deadline live: Tracking latest updates, news

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NBA trade rumors: Tristan Thompson is available, but should Celtics pursue him?

NBA trade rumors: Tristan Thompson is available, but should Celtics pursue him?

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.

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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.

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