While it’s not clear what the “right” deal would look like for Cleveland, Charania suggests that Thompson would be a prime candidate to head the other way if the Cavs were to make a move for a player like Clippers center DeAndre Jordan.
Thompson, who will turn 27 in March, has been a regular part of the Cavaliers’ rotation since being selected fourth overall in the 2011 draft. He has appeared in 487 regular season games and another 59 postseason contests over the course of his career, averaging 9.2 PPG and 8.5 RPG in the regular season, primarily as a starter.
However, in 2017/18, injuries have limited Thompson to 21 games, and the Cavs’ system and style of play have limited his importance to the team. In 21 games, the seventh-year big man is averaging just 5.3 PPG and 5.7 RPG in 19.0 MPG, all career lows.
Thompson’s $16.4MM cap hit makes him a logical outgoing piece if the Cavs look to acquire a big-money player, though the fact that he still has two more guaranteed years on his contract beyond this season likely won’t appeal to some potential trade partners.
In addition to Thompson, the Nets’ 2018 first-round pick is Cleveland’s other noteworthy trade asset. The Cavs have reportedly been hesitant to include that Brooklyn pick in any trade offers so far. Charania suggests that stars like Paul George and DeMarcus Cousins would be worth that Nets first-rounder, but neither George nor Cousins are currently on the trade block, despite their expiring contracts and their respective teams’ mediocre first-half results.