Tristan Thompson has spent his entire career with the Cavs, but what would the Canadian-born big man look like in a Celtics uniform?
Thompson has heard his name tossed about in trade scenarios in the past, and this campaign is no different. At this point, it’s not clear if the Celtics would be interested in his services. Such a deal might be worth a look, though, as Boston has been dealing with frontcourt injuries and could use more help there regardless.
Celtics big man Daniel Theis just missed a game due to a knee ailment. He also dealt with a sore neck earlier this month. Robert Williams is out due to left hip bone edema and will be re-evaluated later this month. Vincent Poirier just returned from a finger injury. These injuries have led to a lot of playing time for Enes Kanter and rookie Grant Williams, but they could use some help.
Removed from his days with LeBron James, Thompson is now serving a different role with the Cavs — one that has him leading a group of talented young players under first-year NBA head coach John Beilein. So far, Cleveland has struggled to find a solid rhythm, as their 12-28 overall record can attest.
Still, Thompson would provide a solid presence in the paint for a Celtics team that could use it, and his playoff experience is an added bit of appeal. In his 38 appearances with the Cavs this season, Thompson has racked up averages of 13.1 points on 51.9 percent shooting from the field (37.5 percent from beyond the arc), a career-high 10.6 rebounds, 2.2 assists and a block in 31.9 minutes per outing.
If the Celtics were interested in a deal for Thompson, the team’s management would need to consider his hefty $18.5 million expiring contract. Boston would have to send out quite a bit of salary in a trade, and none of the key youngsters (Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart) are going anywhere. Kemba Walker is obviously staying put as well, and Gordon Hayward likely wouldn’t be on the table here either. The Celtics could try to cobble together a package using some of their cheaper players to make the trade legal, but it would take some work. Boston also has plenty of draft assets at its disposal to trade.
Though there will likely be other teams interested in Thompson ahead of this season’s trade deadline, he has said that he would be happy with staying in Cleveland, where he has become a fan favorite for his hardworking style of play.
Thompson knows it’s trade season, but he says he’s going to stay focused on the task at hand. In the end, though, he accepts the fact that the NBA is a business:
“Take it one game at a time,” Thompson said last month, via cleveland.com. “Keep the main goal the main goal, which is to come out and compete with my guys and be ready to go to war.”
“Business comes before all the other stuff,” Thompson added. “That’s just the reality of our game.”
Whether or not Tristan Thompson will ride off into a Wine and Gold sunset with the Cavs remains to be seen. For now, we’ll have to wait and see which way the trade winds blow and if a team like the Celtics will come calling.