In an illuminating look at the state of the Cavaliers, Sports Illustrated’s Sam Amico revealed that two Eastern Conference contenders could be destinations for a tandem of Cleveland veterans on expiring deals.
The 2018/19 champion Raptors have a “high interest” in Toronto native Tristan Thompson ahead of this season’s trade deadline, according to Amico. Thompson, an unrestricted free agent this summer, is playing on an expiring $18.5MM contract. Toronto has enough appealing assets to potentially entice Cavaliers GM Koby Altman into making a move. As of this writing, Toronto stands at 15-5, good for third in the Eastern Conference. They are playing the Rockets tonight.
Thompson is currently averaging career highs of 13.9 points and 10.6 boards per contest. The 28 year-old center would presumably replace one of the Raptors’ two-headed center corps, 34 year-old Marc Gasol or 30 year-old Serge Ibaka. Both former All-Defensive players are also on expiring deals, and both are on the athletic downslopes of their careers. Gasol is making $25.6MM this season, while Ibaka is earning $23.3MM. Thompson, a starter on the 2015/16 champion Cavaliers, would make more sense as a springier Ibaka replacement than a substitute for the passing maestro Gasol this year.
Amico also reports that the Sixers are said to be interested in adding Cavaliers guard Jordan Clarkson, on an expiring $13.4MM deal. After the 76ers lost significant offensive firepower with the 2019 summer departures of Jimmy Butler and J.J. Redick, Clarkson could add provide some shooting help off the bench. He is connecting on 35% of his 5.0 long range attempts this season. Clarkson is also knocking down 88.6% of his looks from the charity stripe. Philadelphia sits at fourth in the East with a 15-6 record, though the team is in danger of dropping a game to the Wizards this evening.