Tristan Thompson

Cavaliers Notes: Thompson, Nance, Smith, Lue

Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue plans to have Tristan Thompson and Larry Nance Jr. share the starting center’s role depending on the matchup, according to Marla Ridenour of The Akron Beacon-Journal. Thompson will be the starter against teams with taller centers, while Nance will match up against smaller and quicker opponents.

“Last year it kind of wore Larry down trying to guard those big guys the whole game,” Lue said after today’s practice. “That’s a lot to ask for him to guard Dwight [Howard] and [Andre] Drummond and all those big guys, it’s not fair to him, DeAndre Jordan … I talked to those guys before camp started and kind of told them what the situation was. Larry loved it.”

Nance started 10 of the 24 games he played for the Cavs after being acquired from the Lakers at the trade deadline. He was used entirely in a reserve role during the playoffs. Thompson, formerly Cleveland’s full-time starter, appeared in just 53 games last season and started 22. He was the starter in 11 of the 19 postseason games he played.

Kevin Love, who started 48 games at center last season, will move back to power forward but will switch onto opposing centers on defense. Ante Zizic will also see time in the middle.

There’s more today out of Cleveland:

  • A new tattoo may cost J.R. Smith some money this season if he doesn’t cover it up, relays Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. Smith has the logo of the Supreme clothing brand on the back of his right leg and reacted angrily to threatened disciplinary action from the league. “So you mean to tell me I have to cover up my tattoo for what?” he tweeted. “You don’t make people cover up Jordan logos, NIKE checks or anything else but because it’s me it’s a problem all of a sudden!!!”
  • Smith hopes his younger teammates can learn from some of the mistakes he has made in his career, Fedor writes in a separate story. Smith’s time in the NBA has been filled with questionable decisions, including a soup-throwing incident last year and a clock-related gaffe at the end of Game 1 of the NBA Finals. “If I ain’t a lesson teacher I don’t know who is,” he said. “Obviously I’ve made tons of mistakes throughout my life on and off the court. If you can’t learn from my mistakes and listen to what I have to say, then more power to you and God bless you.”
  • Lue announced a “no tanking” policy this week, but a rough start to the season could test that philosophy, Ridenour notes in another piece.

Central Rumors: Redick, Irving, Brown, Cavs

Sixers guard J.J. Redick nearly signed with the Pacers in free agency, he revealed during a podcast with ESPN’s Zach Lowe. Redick’s comment was tweeted by Scott Agness of The Athletic. Redick stayed with Philadelphia after the Sixers improved their one-year offer to $12.25MM but that was still less than the Pacers were willing to pay. “I wouldn’t have started but I felt like I fit what they needed,” Redick said. “I just envisioned playing two-man (game) with (Domantas) Sabonis.”

In other news around the Atlantic Division:

  • The Knicks’ desire to sign Celtics point guard Kyrie Irving could have a negative impact on the Bulls’ free agency plans next summer, according to an NBC Sports Chicago post. The Knicks have reportedly made Irving their No. 1 target in free agency and it’s been previously rumored that Irving and Jimmy Butler might join forces. If the Bulls wanted to bring back Butler after trading him away last summer, Irving’s potential interest in the Knicks could sidetrack that plan, the report adds.
  • One of the officers involved in the Sterling Brown arrest last January has been fired, according to a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel story passed along by NBC Sports. The Bucks swingman filed a civil lawsuit against the Milwaukee police department after he was arrested and tasered for a parking violation. The officer was fired for violating social media policy and not for his conduct the night of Brown’s arrest, the city’s police chief told the Journal Sentinel.
  • The Cavaliers could be more interesting and successful without LeBron James than many people expect, Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer opines. The development of first-round pick Collin SextonAnte Zizic and Cedi Osman will be intriguing to watch and GM Koby Altman will likely make more moves during the season to reshape the team’s future, Pluto continues. Trading J.R. Smith and Tristan Thompson, who have seemed disinterested during the regular season during the James era, would move the process along, Pluto adds.

Cavaliers Notes: Workouts, Osman, Sexton, Thompson

Kevin Love‘s duties in taking over for LeBron James as team leader include organizing the Cavaliers’ annual pre-camp workouts, writes Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com. Love, whose leadership role was cemented when he agreed to a four-year, $120MM extension this summer, is hosting the voluntary sessions this week at the University of Miami.

Most of the players who are under contract are expected to attend. Coach Tyronn Lue is in Miami as well, but won’t participate if the players-only tradition continues. Tristan Thompson, Cedi Osman and Ante Zizic are all out of the country to play in World Cup qualifiers.

James, who signed with the Lakers in July, organized the workouts in each of the past four seasons. They are usually held in vacation spots, with coaches and front office personnel accompanying the team but letting the players run things.

There’s more today out of Cleveland:

  • Osman can look forward to a much larger role in his second season with the Cavaliers, Vardon notes in a player profile. Osman may inherit James’ role as starting small forward, although Rodney Hood is also a candidate. The 23-year-old saw action in 61 games as a rookie, averaging 3.9 points per night. Osman played several years in Europe before coming to the NBA and appeared much more polished in this year’s Summer League, according to Vardon.
  • Collin Sexton will need to improve his shot, especially from long distance, to become a Rookie of the Year candidate, Vardon states in another profile. Sexton tied with Suns center Deandre Ayton as the favorite for the award in a poll among players drafted this year. However, his success could depend on improving his accuracy from 3-point range, where he hit just .336 last year as a college freshman, and just .242 in SEC games.
  • Thompson, who owns a championship ring and has made four straight trips to the NBA Finals, hopes to create that same atmosphere of success on the Canadian national team. He has been playing for his home country for nearly a decade and believes there’s an opportunity for Canada to become a major player in international competitions. “Right now we have a wave of really good players in the NBA,” Thompson said, “but who knows? Maybe 15 years from now we have a drought, so while guys are here and at a high level, let’s take advantage of it.”

And-Ones: Pitino, Free Agents, Team Canada

A return to the NBA doesn’t appear to be in the cards for Rick Pitino, who coached the Celtics from 1997 to 2001 before spending most of the last two decades with Louisville. Having been dismissed from Louisville after the program was investigated by federal prosecutors for potential recruiting violations, Pitino writes in his new book, “Pitino: My Story,” that no NBA doors have opened lately.

“Since leaving Louisville, my agent has reached out when NBA openings have surfaced,” Pitino wrote, per Jeff Greer of The Louisville Courier Journal. “We couldn’t even get an interview. I can’t blame the general managers who turned me down. Louisville fired me so abruptly, it instantly created the impression that I must be guilty of something.”

Asked today on Good Morning America if he wants to coach again, Pitino replied, “I don’t. It’s over for me, I know that” (video link).

Here are a few more items from around the basketball universe:

  • Veterans like Dwyane Wade, Rodney Hood, and Jamal Crawford may be the most notable free agents still available, but they’re hardly the only ones capable of helping an NBA team. Mark Deeks of GiveMeSport examines 30 unsigned players who are candidates to land on NBA rosters.
  • In an entertaining column for The Advocate, Scott Kushner makes his case for why the NBA season should start its season on Christmas Day, pushing the playoffs deeper into the summer.
  • Team Canada’s training camp roster for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers features a handful of NBA players, including Kelly Olynyk (Heat), Tristan Thompson (Cavaliers), Dillon Brooks (Grizzlies), Cory Joseph (Pacers), and Khem Birch (Magic).
  • In a reversal of roles, Damian Lillard broke some news regarding Chris Haynes today, tweeting that the veteran reporter will be leaving ESPN for Yahoo, where he’ll become the Senior NBA Insider and will help build the site’s NBA team. Adrian Wojnarowski, Shams Charania, and Bobby Marks have left Yahoo within the last year and a half.

Pacific Notes: Lakers, Bridges, Labissiere, Clippers

The Lakers ensured themselves a successful offseason when they signed LeBron James, but they still need to fill a vacancy at center, writes Matt John of Basketball Insiders. The addition of free agent JaVale McGee doesn’t really solidify the position, and the only other choices on the roster are rookie Moe Wagner and Ivica Zubac.

With David West and Brandan Wright as the best free agents left on the market, John identifies several potential trade targets, including Tristan Thompson, James’ former teammate in Cleveland. Thompson is a physical rebounder and defender with whom James had a good rapport. However, John notes that he may not be available unless Cleveland decides to rebuild.

Other possibilities include the Bismack Biyombo, who finds himself in a center logjam after being traded to Charlotte, the Bucks’ John Henson, the Bulls’ Robin Lopez, the Magic’s Nikola Vucevic and the Hawks’ Dewayne Dedmon.

There’s more news from the Pacific Division:

  • Suns rookie swingman Mikal Bridges was a little disappointed he didn’t play more in the summer league, James Blancarte of Basketeball Insiders reports. “It’s tough you know. Coming in mentally, you don’t know what the coach is going to do and how they are going to play you,” Bridges told Blancarte. “Couple of games, not playing as much as I thought I was going to be [playing]. Just staying mentally [tough], going through that.” Bridges averaged 6.2 PPG and 2.6 RPG in 20 MPG during five Las Vegas outings. He will also likely have wait his turn during his rookie campaign but Phoenix thought enough of him to swing a draft-night trade with the Sixers, Blancarte notes.
  • Kings big man Skal Labissiere is looking to improve his durability during his offseason workouts, Jason Wise of the team’s website relays. Memphis-area trainer Raheem Shabazz has made Instagram posts showing the work Labissiere is putting in as he prepares for his third NBA season.
  • Clippers lottery picks Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Jerome Robinson showed flashes of potential in summer league games but they were far from perfect, according to Keith Smith of RealGM. Gilgeous-Alexander has a solid all-around game but needs lot of work with his shot. Robinson has to focus more on the defensive end, Smith continues, while undrafted big man Angel Delgado struggled on the perimeter. However, Delgado displayed strong rebounding instincts and toughness on the interior, Smith adds.

Central Notes: Wade, Bucks, Casey, Lowe

The signing of Dwyane Wade just before the start of the season led to jealousy in the Cavaliers‘ locker room, according to Terry Pluto of Cleveland.com. J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert were most affected, with Smith fearing Wade would take his starting spot and Shumpert believing Wade would cut into his playing time. Wade did start briefly, before asking to be moved to a bench role. Injuries limited Shumpert to just 14 games before he was traded to the Kings in February.

Pluto outlines other problems with the Cavs’ roster, including Tristan Thompson‘s distractions with the Kardashian family and his notoriety on gossip websites, Kevin Love‘s panic attacks and a team meeting where he felt he was being attacked by Wade and Isaiah Thomas, and Jae Crowder‘s ineffectiveness without the structured offense he had under Brad Stevens in Boston.

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • The Bucks contemplated a pair of draft night trades before selecting Donte DiVincenzo at No. 17, reports Jake Fischer of Sports Illustrated. They talked about swapping picks with the Pacers and moving down to No. 23, and discussed a deal with the Hawks involving the 19th and 30th selections. Atlanta, which planned to take Kevin Huerter with the 17th pick, ended negotiations when word that the Bucks were drafting DiVincenzo leaked on Twitter. The Hawks expected the Spurs to grab Lonnie Walker at No. 18 and were confident that Huerter would fall to them at No. 19. DiVincenzo was happy to wind up in Milwaukee, which he and his representatives had singled out as a preferred destination.
  • Developing young players will be a priority for new coach Dwane Casey in his first season with the Pistons, writes Vince Ellis of The Detroit Free Press. The front office believes improvement from Stanley Johnson, Luke Kennard and Henry Ellenson is necessary for the team to return to the playoffs. “Three very talented young players,” Casey said at his introductory press conference this week. “That’s going to be on us, the coaching staff, to really draw as much of that as we can. The talent level on the roster is there. Getting it together and identifying how we’re going to play is very, very important. That’s the fun part of it because the talent base is there.”  The Pistons plan to experiment with Kennard as a point guard in summer league play, Ellis tweets.
  • After adding Bucks assistant Sean Sweeney to their coaching staff this week, the Pistons are now targeting Wizards assistant Sidney Lowe, tweets Marc Stein of The New York Times.

Canada Basketball Unveils 18 Training Camp Invites

Canada Basketball has announced its preliminary 18-man roster of players who have been invited to participate in training camp and exhibition play ahead of the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 Americas Qualifiers next month, reports Josh Lewenberg of The Sports Network.

Among the 18 named individuals, eight played in the NBA last season – Khem Birch (Magic), Chris Boucher (Warriors), Dillon Brooks (Grizzlies), Cory Joseph (Pacers), Jamal Murray (Nuggets), Kelly Olynyk (Heat), Dwight Powell (Mavericks), and Tristan Thompson (Cavaliers).

The preliminary roster also includes former No. 1 overall pick Anthony Bennett, as well as three other G League players – Aaron BestOlivier Hanlan, and Kaza Kajami-Keane.

The remaining six players are former first-round pick of the Magic, Andrew Nicholsonformer college standouts’ Iowa State’s Melvin Ejim, Baylor’s Brady Heslip, and Gonzaga’s Kevin Pangos, as well as brothers Phil Scrubb and Tommy Scrubb.

As also highlighted by Lewenberg, notable absences include Trey Lyles (Nuggets), Nik Stauskas (Nets), and most glaringly, Andrew Wiggins (Timberwolves). Per Lewenberg, multiple sources indicated that one factor in Wiggins’ decision to decline Canada Basketball’s invitation is his strained relationship with national team head coach Jay Triano, who left Wiggins on the bench during the final moments of a qualifying game for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

Tristan Thompson Avoids Suspension, Fined $25K

Cavaliers center Tristan Thompson has been fined $25K for “failing to leave the court in a timely manner” after he was ejected in overtime of the team’s Game 1 loss, the league announced in a press release (via Jeff Zillgitt of USA TODAY Sports).

Thompson was ejected with 2.6 seconds left in overtime after it was deemed he threw an elbow at Warriors guard Shaun Livingston. Thompson was assessed a flagrant-2 foul on the play but the league announcement noted that it has been downgraded to a flagrant-1.

Golden State forward Draymond Green taunted a visibly frustrated Thompson, who shoved the basketball at Green’s face. A brief scuffle ensued until both players were separated and Thompson made his way to the locker room.

There was concern that the Cavaliers may lose Thompson to a suspension. His teammate Kevin Love also avoided a one-game ban — it appeared Love walked onto the court during Thompson’s scuffle, but he was not fined or suspended. Head coach Tyronn Lue was also not fined for making critical comments of the officiating late in regulation.

Suspensions May Result From Game 1 Fracas

A scuffle in the waning seconds of Thursday night’s contest may leave some key players suspended for Game 2, writes Chris Haynes of ESPN.

Cavaliers center Tristan Thompson is expected to receive some form of penalty for shoving the ball in Draymond Green‘s face after being tossed out of Game 1 for committing a Flagrant 2 foul. Kevin Love may also face a suspension for leaving the bench during the incident. Love, who was quickly pulled off the court by an assistant coach, said he doesn’t believe any disciplinary action is warranted.

“I was already on the court trying to get the refs’ attention before the scuffle,” he explained.

The altercation started when Golden State’s Shaun Livingston attempted a jumper with the shot clock expiring in the final seconds of overtime. Thompson hit Livingston in the chest with his elbow as he tried to block the shot and later expressed anger that the Warriors didn’t accept the clock violation.

“I contested a shot that shouldn’t have been taken,” Thompson said. “I mean, it’s like the unspoken rule in the NBA: If you’re up 10 or 11 with about 20 seconds left, you don’t take that shot. I make the contest, and next thing I know, I was being kicked out for making a contest that we learn in training camp. I don’t know why I got thrown out.”

Livingston and Klay Thompson stepped in to prevent Green from retaliating, which likely saved him from being suspended.
Livingston defended his decision after the game, claiming that taking the shot was the right play to make.

“I say that we don’t take the turnover. I don’t take the turnover,” he said.Kevin [Durant] threw me the ball, and he threw it to me like we were still playing. J.R. [Smith] was still guarding him, you know. No disrespect. We just play the game. So, that’s what it was. … It’s the Finals. It’s all love. … It was like a YMCA pickup game in the last 30 seconds.”

Eastern Finals Notes: Tatum, Horford, James, Love

Cleveland will have to play Game 7 without Kevin Love, but Boston’s Jayson Tatum came away from Friday night’s collision relatively unscathed. Coach Brad Stevens told reporters that doctors checked on Tatum today and said he’s in “great” condition, tweets ESPN’s Chris Forsberg. Tatum will continue to be monitored up to tomorrow’s game, but right now the team isn’t worried about his availability.

Tatum was defending Love when they bumped heads in the first quarter and said it took him a while to shake off the effects, relays A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston.

“They asked me if I was dizzy, if I had a headache,” said Tatum, who underwent concussion testing on the sidelines. “I’m fine.”

There’s more on the eve of Game 7:

  • Cavaliers center Tristan Thompson, who barely played when the postseason began, has helped turn the series around with his defense on Al Horford, notes Adam Himmeslbach of The Boston Globe. Cleveland is outscoring Boston by 3.2 points per 100 possessions when they are on the court together, but the Celtics have a 19.2 edge when Horford plays without Thompson. Boston’s big man was visibly frustrated after Friday’s game, which included a healthy dose of double teaming. “If you were watching the game, I was getting doubled as soon as I caught the ball,” Horford said to reporters. “Every time, I didn’t really have one-on-one position. So they did a good job of really doubling me and making it hard.”
  • As bad as the Love injury news was for Cavaliers fans, things could have been worse, relays Dave McMenamin of ESPN. Larry Nance Jr. collided with LeBron James during the fourth quarter on a play that reminded McMenamin of an incident that caused Kevin Durant to miss a significant part of last season. “I just felt someone fall into my leg, and my leg kind of went in,” said James, who was limping when he left the arena. “I felt some pain throughout my entire right side of my ankle into my leg. I was just hoping for the best, obviously, because I’ve seen so many different injuries, and watching basketball with that type of injury, someone fall into one’s leg standing straight up. Luckily, I was able to finish the game.”
  • Love’s injury means James will likely have to improve on his already-superhuman effort, writes Justin Verrier of The Ringer. Love is averaging 13.9 points and 10.0 rebounds in the postseason, but he hasn’t been especially effective against the Celtics, Verrier notes. He has a minus-7.4 net rating in the series, worst on the team other than Rodney Hood.