The Cleveland Cavaliers are at a crossroads between rebuilding and having veteran talent that can be productive. While they continue to lick their wounds after LeBron James’ departure, one could hope another team does their dirty work for them. Tristan Thompson is a name that has swirled around the rumor-mill but never seemed to have gained any serious traction. Although the Cavs are playing well below par this season, Thompson can help a contender immediately.
Among centers, Thompson is 6th in rebounding, grabbing 10.4 per game. He is also one of just 11 players to average double-digit points (11.9) and rebounds.
Thompson may be as low maintenance as they come, as he doesn’t demand post touches to put up numbers. His paint protection, in addition to his ability to defend on perimeter switches, makes him ideal for teams looking to add size.
While his $18M salary may make teams hesitant, he is an NBA champion and showed he has what it takes to win big when it counts. Besides, it’s only $4M above Clint Capela’s salary, and we just saw him get traded to the Hawks.
.@RealTristan13 grabbed a career-high 22 REB tonight (10 OREB) and finished with his team-leading 21st double-double of the season (13 PTS/22 REB), 1 STL and 1 BLK in 35 MIN. He had 10 REB in the 1st H, marking his most REB in any half this season. #BeTheFight #Cavs50
— Cavs Official Notes (@CavsNotes) January 21, 2020
Thompson would almost guarantee some type of draft assets, albeit a second-rounder. Expect the Cavs to be sellers around the deadline, with contenders all feeling as if they have a legitimate shot at the championship this season.
Proven veterans are usually a good bet on adapting to the new environment quickly, and adding value. Recent history validates that. The Raptors went on to win the NBA title just last season after acquiring Marc Gasol at the deadline. Similarly, the Lakers made an immediate NBA Finals appearance in 2008 after acquiring Pau Gasol — only to follow that up by winning the subsequent two championships.
Whichever team is willing to go all-in will likely pull the trigger. The price is always right to be the last team standing in June. If Thompson isn’t the answer, teams can surely survey the field for another big man. But they probably won’t come with championship pedigree.