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Pacers coach Rick Carlisle: Pacers center Tristan Thompson signing with Bulls

Tristan Thompson in Washington Wizards v Indiana Pacers

INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA - FEBRUARY 16: Tristan Thompson #11 of the Indiana Pacers celebrates a play with Terry Taylor #32 of the Indiana Pacers during the first quarter in the game against the Washington Wizards at Gainbridge Fieldhouse on February 16, 2022 in Indianapolis, Indiana. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images)

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Tristan Thompson – sent from the Kings to the Pacers as matching salary in the Domantas Sabonis-Tyrese Haliburton trade – immediately looked like a buyout candidate.

Thompson played four games with Indiana. His best performance (17 points on 8-of-9 shooting with six rebounds in 21 minutes) came in last night’s win over the Wizards.

Asked in the post-game press conference about Thompson’s showing, Pacers coach Rick Carlisle took a surprising turn – announcing Thompson would sign with the Bulls.

Tony East of Forbes:


Well, it was fun while it was lasted. He’s going to be joining a different team. He’s going to be waived tomorrow, and he’ll be joining a contending team in the East, a little bit north, if anybody wants to tweet. Stars with a C and ends with an O. But we thanked him for what he’s brought the last six or seven days. Brought a high level of professionalism, and he’s done a really good job. Chicago, if anybody didn’t get that.

I don’t mind announcing it, because, you know, it’s going to happen. And what the heck? You know, nothing wrong with speaking the truth.

It’s a rare instance where you get to thank a guy in the presence of his teammates, and these guys have an awful lot of respect for who he is, what he’s accomplished in the league. Former starter on a championship team, all that kind of stuff. And he played very, very big tonight.

Maybe a curmudgeonly Carlisle lost patience for the backroom dealing that has become common in the NBA. Maybe he has a specific resentment for the Bulls. Maybe, as he indicated, he was just speaking the truth for its own sake.

But it was certainly unusual for a coach to reveal his player’s plan like that.

The Bulls don’t have an obvious need for Thompson. Nikola Vucevic is their starting center, and their backup – Tony Bradley – has outplayed Thompson this season. Perhaps, Chicago plans to use Thompson at power forward, where injuries have ravaged the Bulls and Patrick Williams remains out.

At 30, Thompson has shown signs of decline, Perhaps, he could do better in a more-limited role – rebounder, screener, etc. – than what he had in Sacramento. Maybe he’s pacing himself.

By joining the Eastern Conference’s first-place team, Thompson should get a chance to play in the postseason games he values so highly.