With the NBA trade deadline less than a month away, the Cleveland Cavaliers are continuing to look at making deals in an effort to rebuild the franchise.
One player who has garnered interest from other teams is center Tristan Thompson, who only recently returned to the lineup from injury.
Sam Amico of AmicoHoops.net noted that while the Cavaliers aren’t actively seeking to deal the 27-year-old Thompson, there has been some interest in a possible deal elsewhere:
“According to several league sources, the Cavs have taken a few calls on their starting center, who has become a solid rock of a leader and teammate in an otherwise lost season.”
Thompson returned to the Cavaliers’ starting lineup on Jan. 2 after missing 10 games because of a sore foot. Prior to that, he had put up numbers that began talk of a possible selection to the All-Star team. For the year, he’s averaging 11.7 points, 11.2 rebounds and 2.1 assists, all career-highs.
The combination of Thompson’s improved play on the court and his eagerness to take on a more high-profile leadership role for the rebuilding Cavaliers have increased his trade value, according to Amico:
“Opposing teams are noticing Thompson’s play this year as well — a big reason why they’re suddenly dialing up Cavs general manager Koby Altman despite Thompson’s rather large contract.”
That contract, signed in 2015, is paying Thompson $17.5 million this season and $18.5 million for the 2019-20 campagin. Despite that steep cost, Amico reports that teams looking to challenge for an NBA title are likely inquiring about Thompson:
“While sources did not provide specifics on which teams the Cavs have spoken with, it is believed they are hearing from teams in actual contention.”
One team that would make particular sense as a trade partner would be the Toronto Raptors, since they currently have the best record in the NBA at 33-12. More germane to Thompson’s situation is that he’s a native of the city.
Amico points out some other possible destinations for Thompson:
“The Houston Rockets also just lost center Clint Capela for at least a month with an injured thumb, and have already spoken with the Cavs a few times about exiled shooting guard J.R. Smith. (Though it is believed most of those conversations took place before Smith was told to go home.)
“The Oklahoma City Thunder and Portland Trail Blazers are others who may be interested.”
Regardless of whether or not Thompson remains a member of the Cavaliers, the team itself is continuing to struggle. They did snap a 12-game losing streak on Sunday night to improve to a league-worst 9-35, with a Wednesday night game in Portland next on its schedule.