Tristan Thompson

Altman Confirms Mutual Interest Between Thompson, Cavs

Tristan Thompson‘s days in Cleveland appeared numbered following the Cavaliers‘ acquisition of center Andre Drummond in February, but reports throughout the summer suggested that a new deal between the Cavs and Thompson is still possible, with Spencer Davies of BasketballNews.com citing a source this week who says there’s “a lot of mutual interest” between the two sides.

With free agency around the corner, Thompson isn’t participating in the Cavaliers’ in-market bubble mini-camp this week. However, general manager Koby Altman made it clear that’s not a sign that the big man won’t be back, confirming that a reunion remains in play, per Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com.

“I think it’s fair to say there’s mutual interest for sure,” Altman said. “He’s been with this franchise his entire career since we drafted him. He’s won a championship here. Obviously, he means a lot to the players on the team right now.”

Thompson’s veteran teammates in the frontcourt are among those who would like to see him back, as Fedor relays. Larry Nance Jr. said that re-signing Thompson would be his “top priority” this offseason, while Kevin Love said Thompson is “so valuable for this team and this organization.”

Still, according to Fedor, one source believes a new deal between the Cavaliers and Thompson is just a “50-50” proposition, since there are some obstacles that would complicate matters. Given Cleveland’s cap situation, re-signing the 29-year-old may limit the club’s ability to use its mid-level exception. And if the Cavs draft a big man with the No. 5 overall pick in November, the frontcourt might be too crowded to fit Thompson.

“It has to make sense,” Altman acknowledged. “There are some events coming up — the draft, free agency — where we have to see if it makes sense for him. He’s earned the right to be an unrestricted free agent and explore opportunities at this point in his career. So, we’ll see.”

In-Market Bubble Updates: Pistons, Wolves, Cavs

As the NBA’s bottom eight teams gear up to conduct group workouts starting next week, the Pistons have 15 players in attendance for the first phase of their in-market bubble. However, that 15-man group includes five G Leaguers, with a number of notable names from the NBA roster absent.

As Eric Woodyard of ESPN details, head coach Dwane Casey said on Wednesday that Blake Griffin, Derrick Rose, Christian Wood, and Langston Galloway aren’t participating.

“All of our young guys are here. Derrick Rose and Blake are not here, which is totally understandable,” Casey said. “Both are working out, and it’s nothing physical. They’re both 100 percent. Blake’s working out in LA, and Derrick is in and out of town.”

As for Wood and Galloway, both players are set to reach unrestricted free agency this fall, so Casey said he understood why they’d be reluctant to participate in workouts with the club over the next few weeks.

“We’re not reading anything into that either way,” Casey said, per Woodyard. “So it’s just something I totally get because if I’m a free agent, I wouldn’t attend anyway to the team you’re not under contract with.”

Here’s more on those mini-camps taking part in “bubbles” across the country:

  • The majority of the Timberwolves‘ key players, including Karl-Anthony Towns, D’Angelo Russell, and restricted free agent Malik Beasley, are participating in their in-market bubble, as are G Leaguers Canyon Barry and Lindell Wigginton (Twitter link via Woodyard). Free-agent-to-be Evan Turner, Omari Spellman, and Juan Hernangomez won’t be in attendance. Hernangomez is an RFA and is currently overseas, Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic notes (via Twitter), while Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News tweets that Spellman’s camp is hoping to find the big man a new home.
  • Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com provides details on the Cavaliers‘ in-market bubble plans for the next two-and-a-half weeks, with group practices set to begin next Wednesday. Tristan Thompson and Matthew Dellavedova, both eligible for free agency, won’t attend, but G Leaguers Levi Randolph, Marques Bolden and Vince Edwards have been invited to participate.
  • A personal matter will also prevent center Andre Drummond from attending the Cavaliers‘ mini-camp, though he wanted to be there, sources tell Fedor. “He’s been pretty engaged in everything,” one source said of Drummond. “It’s not like he’s gone dark. He wanted to be there. It’s nothing malicious. It’s not a sign or anything like that. It’s not going to cause a rift.”
  • The NBA sent a memo to the league’s bottom eight teams warning them that if they “require or coerce” players to participate in the optional workouts, they’ll be subject to league punishment, tweets Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer.

Cavs Rumors: Avdija, Toppin, Thompson, More

Maccabi Tel Aviv forward Deni Avdija, who won the Israeli League’s MVP award this year, should be considered one of the leading candidates to be drafted by the Cavaliers at No. 5 overall, according to Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com.

As Fedor explains, the Cavaliers have done “extensive work” on Avdija, who fits the team’s culture both on and off the court. General manager Koby Altman, director of scouting Brandon Weems, and assistant GM Mike Gansey all made trips overseas to see him play prior to the season shutting down, while head coach J.B. Bickerstaff has reached out to former players Omri Casspi, Tyler Dorsey and Tarik Black for intel on their Maccabi Tel Aviv teammate, writes Fedor.

It’s possible that Avdija will be gone by the time the Cavs are on the clock — sources tell Fedor that the previous Bulls regime “loved” the Israeli forward and probably would’ve taken him at No. 4, though it’s unclear if the new decision-makers in Chicago are as high on him.

The Cavaliers also like Isaac Okoro and Devin Vassell, so if all three wings are still on the board at No. 5, it won’t be an easy decision, according to Fedor, who adds that forward Obi Toppin is “very much in play” at that spot as well.

Here’s more from Fedor on the Cavs:

  • There’s no specific mandate from team owner Dan Gilbert for the Cavs to stay out of the tax going forward, but the team would prefer to do so and that will play a role in roster decisions, according to Fedor. Long-term financial considerations may also dissuade the team from taking on an exorbitant multiyear contract such as Tobias Harris‘ or Al Horford‘s in any trade, Fedor adds.
  • Given the money already on the Cavs’ books for 2020/21, the team is unlikely to re-sign Tristan Thompson and use the full mid-level exception this offseason, according to Fedor in a separate story. Cleveland may have to choose one path or the other, per Fedor, who thinks the team should prioritize Thompson.
  • One source estimated to Fedor that the odds of Thompson returning are 50-50. “I believe there’s a chance of him re-signing in free agency,” another source close to Thompson told Cleveland.com. “He hasn’t necessarily played his final game there.”
  • If Thompson departs and the Cavs do look to use their MLE, Derrick Jones and Pat Connaughton are among the free agents they may target, Fedor writes.

Central Notes: Cavs, Warren, Bulls, Pistons

The Cavaliers are set to return to their practice facility in mid-September to hold a voluntary minicamp. While most players will be there, pending free agents Tristan Thompson and Matthew Dellavedova will not be participating, per Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com.

Along with Thompson and Dellavedova, Andre Drummond isn’t expected to be in attendance at the Cavaliers’ minicamp due to a personal matter. Fedor says that the veteran center, who is likely to pick up his $28.7MM player option for next season, was initially interested in attending.

The Cavaliers are among eight teams who did not qualify for the NBA’s restart in Orlando that will get the chance to hold practices with their players.

Here’s more from across the Central Division:

  • In an extensive interview with Michael Pina of GQ, Pacers forward T.J. Warren spoke about his love of reading books. “I was thinking, I’ve gotta find a way to stimulate my mind when I’m not playing basketball and reading things that interest me,” Warren explained. “Sometimes you can get mixed up with some of the information you’re getting through social media or television, but if you actually like reading and getting it from the source, you can comprehend it better.” The 26-year-old forward had impressive performances in the bubble, which included a career-high 53 points against the 76ers in the seeding games.
  • Sam Smith of Bulls.com discussed some potential point guard options for the Bulls, who have the fourth overall pick in the 2020 NBA draft. In his latest mailbag, one reader asked Smith if the Bulls would think about trading down if LaMelo Ball is available at No. 4. In response to that question, Smith points out that new Chicago general manager Arturas Karnisovas has had success with finding gems later in the draft. However, if Smith had his choice, he would trade down for Iowa State’s Tyrese Haliburton, especially if Memphis’ James Wiseman is off the board.
  • In his latest mailbag, Keith Langlois of Pistons.com wrote about Sekou Doumbouya‘s possible role next season under head coach Dwane Casey, various draft options for the Pistons, and Derrick Rose‘s outlook. When it comes to October’s draft, Langlois writes that all options are on the table for the Pistons, who own the seventh overall pick. He mentions that they could select either Deni Avdija, Killian Hayes, Isaac Okoro, Onyeka Okongwu, or Haliburton.

Cavaliers Notes: Thompson, Sexton, Garland, MLE

Uncertainty surrounding the upcoming free agent market may work in the Cavaliers‘ favor as they try to keep Tristan Thompson, writes Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. Multiple sources tell Fedor that the Cavs are hoping to re-sign the veteran big man, who has spent his entire nine-season NBA career in Cleveland. The front office tried to work out an extension during the season, but didn’t make any progress.

Thompson, whose five-year, $82MM deal just expired, may not find any big-money offers as the league adjusts to massive revenue losses. Fedor notes that apart from the Heat, who are believed to be saving cap space for a more attractive crop of free agents in 2021, all the teams with projected cap space are in rebuilding situations like the Cavaliers.

“I believe there’s a chance of him re-signing in free agency,” a source close to Thompson told Fedor. “He hasn’t necessarily played his final game there.”

Fedor suggests that the Lakers, Clippers or Thompson’s hometown Raptors could offer him their mid-level exception, but the Cavs could easily top that, especially since they own his Bird rights. Another possibility is a sign-and-trade that would send Thompson to a contender while giving Cleveland another asset to build around.

There’s more this morning from Cleveland:

  • John Hollinger of The Athletic takes a look at the Cavaliers’ future and questions whether Collin Sexton and Darius Garland can ever form an effective backcourt combination. Both are small guards with deficiencies on defense, and Hollinger believes Garland looked “overmatched” during his rookie season. He suggests that Garland’s long-term role may be off the bench, especially with a guard-rich draft looming.
  • In the same piece, Hollinger states that the Cavs should use their mid-level exception to find a wing player who can handle either forward position. He mentions Miami’s Derrick Jones Jr. and Minnesota’s Juan Hernangomez as possibilities, along with a gamble on Memphis’ Josh Jackson.
  • After being named to the Rising Stars Challenge this year as an injury replacement, Sexton has set a much higher goal for the future, Fedor writes in a separate piece. “I want to push towards that All-Star Game,” Sexton said Friday during a Zoom call with reporters. “I know what (that stage) feels like and it just makes me hungry and makes me want to work that much harder. That’s what’s next for me.”

Central Rumors: Poeltl, Griffin, Porter, Thompson

The Spurs’ Jakob Poeltl and the Kings’ Harry Giles are two of the centers the Pistons could target in free agency, James Edwards III of The Athletic opines. Poeltl began his NBA career under Pistons coach Dwane Casey in Toronto and his agent, Michael Tellem, is the son of Pistons vice chairman Arn Tellem, Edwards notes. Giles, like Poeltl, has the ability to develop into a much greater force than he’s shown with his current club, Edwards adds.

We have more from the Central Division:

  • The 2019/20 season was a wash for Pistons star forward Blake Griffin due to knee and hamstring injuries. However, the oft-injured Griffin believes he has plenty left in the tank, as he told the Detroit Free Press’ Omari Sankofa II (Twitter link) and other media members. Griffin said he doesn’t see his current contract, which lasts through the 2021/22 season, as his last. He also doesn’t view himself as being in decline. Griffin said last month he’s fully recovered from knee surgery in early January.
  • It’s doubtful Otto Porter will remain on the Bulls beyond his current contract, K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago speculates. Porter’s expiring contract — provided he opts in for $28.5MM next season — is his main value to the organization. Given Porter’s injury history, Johnson anticipates there are other long-term plans for the wing spot beyond Porter.
  • While many NBA experts believe free agent Tristan Thompson has played his last game with the Cavaliers, Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer has heard otherwise (hat tip to Hoops Hype’s Alex Kennedy). On the Wine and Gold Talk podcast, Fedor said Thompson is intrigued by the idea of finishing his career in Cleveland. “There’s also a sense that the Cavs recognize the value that Tristan Thompson brings,” Fedor said. “And Tristan being one of the greatest Cavaliers of all-time and eventually having his jersey hung and continuing to climb the ranks of the all-time Cavs is something that’s meaningful to him.”

Central Notes: Cavs’ Draft, T. Thompson, Prince, Bulls

The Cavaliers have Israeli forward Deni Avdija ranked in their second tier of draft prospects, according to Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. Fedor states that the team has done “extensive homework” on Avdija, but evaluation is tricky because he had limited playing time in the EuroLeague.

At 6’9″, Avdija offers athleticism, versatility and play-making, but his outside shot is questionable. Forward is Cleveland’s primary position of need, but Fedor indicates the team plans to take the best player available, regardless of position. He identifies Anthony Edwards, James Wiseman and LaMelo Ball as the three players in the team’s first tier.

Fedor also says if the Cavs are interested in Obi Toppin, they should plan to use him as a power forward/center rather than a small forward. According to Fedor, Toppin doesn’t have the offensive skills or the lateral quickness to succeed on the perimeter in the NBA.

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • If the Cavaliers‘ season is over, fans may not get the chance to say goodbye to a pair of franchise cornerstones in Tristan Thompson and Matthew Dellavedova, writes Evan Dammarell of Forbes. With Thompson’s $18.5MM and Dellavedova’s $9.6MM contracts deal both coming off the books, Dammarell doesn’t expect either to return next season, although Dellavedova may be willing to accept a veteran’s minimum deal. Thompson told the organization he would like to be traded to a contender before the deadline, Dammarell states, but Cleveland didn’t like any of the offers it received.
  • Former Pistons star Tayshaun Prince has the experience to succeed as the team’s next general manager, contends Omari Sankofa II of The Detroit Free Press. Prince performs a variety of roles in the Grizzlies’ front office and has become an influential voice since being hired in 2017.
  • Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times looks back at a disappointing season for the Bulls that will be over unless the NBA decides to resume the season for all 30 teams. Cowley hands out a few awards, such as Zach LaVine as player of the year and Coby White as reserve of the year, and says the most significant event was John Paxson’s decision to tell ownership in December that changes were needed in the front office.

Tristan Thompson Talks Upcoming Free Agency, Cavaliers

While the rest of the 2019/20 season is up in the air for every NBA player, it’s an especially uncertain time for the players who were set to hit free agency this summer. One of those players is Cavaliers big man Tristan Thompson.

A key part of the Cavs’ 2016 NBA championship, Thompson has had an up-and-down tenure in Cleveland. This season, Thompson was averaging 12.0 PPG (a career-high) and 10.1 RPG in 57 games (51 starts) before the coronavirus pandemic stopped play. Regardless of what happens to the 2019/20 campaign, the Cavaliers are already set to enter next season with Larry Nance Jr., Kevin Love and Andre Drummond in their frontcourt, so it’s not clear if Thompson will be part of the team’s future plans.

In a conference call with reporters, including Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com, Thompson discussed some topics, including his tenure in and future in the NBA.

Check out some highlights below:

Thompson’s thoughts on his upcoming free agency:

“(It hasn’t) crossed my mind at all. I don’t like to think too far ahead or think maybe or what-if. I just try to look at it, just the reality of everything now, what’s in front of us.

“No one is thinking about free agency, they’re thinking about how we’re going to get some games going. In terms of free agency stuff, I let Rich Paul handle that. He’s the best in the game. Keep the main focus the main focus and that’s staying ready to play some basketball, whenever that may be. In terms of free agency and whether guys are going to take one-year deals, the cap situation, guys are going to do what’s best for them and their family. My approach right now is just enjoy family time and stay basketball ready.”

On his tenure with the Cavaliers:

“Being in my ninth season, never thought in a million years I would have the success I’ve had. Taking it one day at a time and enjoying every bit of it. Meeting so many great people, being part of a franchise and city that’s been through so many tough times and being able to break the 52-year drought — that was the most important thing I think in my time here. I wouldn’t change it for the world.”

On the players’ main concern with resuming the season:

“I think the main concern is just how can we do it in a way where everyone’s at peace when they go to work? As long as guys aren’t second guessing or hesitating and then we could start moving forward, but none of that can be done until there’s a direction with our country you know in terms of what we’re doing health-wise.”

Cavaliers Notes: Drummond, Thompson, Shumpert

Andre Drummond‘s option decision will be the move that ultimately controls the Cavaliers‘ offseason, according to Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com, who hears from multiple sources that Drummond exercising that option remains the most probable outcome. With that $28.7MM option on their books, the Cavs almost certainly wouldn’t open up any cap room, limiting their potential offseason moves.

The Cavaliers are “fully prepared” for Drummond to opt in and felt when they acquired the veteran center that there was no better player – among those would be available and realistically attainable – to spend that money on, according to Fedor. As Fedor explains, Cleveland considers Drummond’s skill-set, including his ability to protect the rim on defense and roll to the rim on offense, a good match for the young guards the team is developing.

Here’s more out of Cleveland:

  • In a mailbag for Cleveland.com, Fedor addressed a handful of topics, including Tristan Thompson‘s possible future with the Cavaliers. Fedor says he was convinced following the acquisition of Drummond that Thompson wouldn’t be retained, but now feels that there could still be a place for the big man in Cleveland if the price is right.
  • Speaking to Shams Charania of The Athletic (video link), Iman Shumpert discussed the gradual dismantling of the Cavaliers team that won the NBA Finals in 2016, noting that he has talked to Kyrie Irving about the subject since they left Cleveland. Shumpert expressed some regret that the roster didn’t remain fully intact for another year or two, given the success the club had.
  • In case you missed it, the most recent installment in our Salary Cap Preview series focused on the Cavaliers’ 2020/21 cap outlook.

Eastern Notes: Haliburton, VanVleet, Presti, Thompson

Iowa State sophomore Tyrese Haliburton might be the safest lottery pick for the Knicks among the guard prospects, ESPN analyst Seth Greenberg told Marc Berman of the New York Post. Haliburton was averaging 15.2 PPG, 5.9 RPG, 6.5 APG and 2.5 SPG before a wrist injury cut short his season. There isn’t any guard on par with Ja Morant in the draft, according to Greenberg, but Haliburton is a pure point guard who doesn’t carry any baggage.

We have more from around the Eastern Conference:

  • The Raptors would probably be willing to pay unrestricted free agent guard Fred VanVleet $17-20MM annually to retain his services, Blake Murphy of The Athletic opines. The market for VanVleet could drop significantly if the salary cap is lowered, with only a handful of teams having the ability to sign him using their space. VanVleet’s best option may be to secure long-term money from the Raptors since they hold his Bird rights, Murphy adds.
  • It’s doubtful the Bulls would make a serious run at Thunder GM Sam Presti during their planned front office restructuring, according to K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. Not only is it unknown whether Presti would be interested in a high-level front office role with the club but it would probably take $8-10MM annually to land his services, Johnson continues, and the Bulls historically haven’t forked up that kind of money. Presti would also likely want to bring in some of his own people, which would add to the tab, Johnson adds.
  • A sign-and-trade is the most likely outcome for Cavaliers center Tristan Thompson when he becomes an unrestricted free agent, Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer opines. It’s increasingly likely that Andre Drummond will exercise his $28.7MM option, relegating Thompson to a bench role. The Cavs might want to bring back Thompson on a team-friendly contract, but if they draft a center that would also change the equation. Thompson has earned the right to test the market and a sign-and-trade could give him a chance to maximize his value and playing time, Fedor adds.