Tristan Thompson

Kyler’s Latest: Jordan, Kings, Mirotic, Whiteside

The streaky Clippers, who lost nine straight games back in November, have now won a season-high six consecutive contests, re-inserting themselves in the playoff picture in the Western Conference. Even though DeAndre Jordan has been sidelined with an ankle injury for the Clips’ last three wins, the streak seems to bode well for his chances of sticking in Los Angeles through the trade deadline.

As Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders writes, Clippers ownership and management doesn’t seem at all eager to blow up the roster. For now, the club is focused on seeing if it’s capable of competing in the West, preferring to wait until a bit closer to the deadline to evaluate all of its options.

If the Clippers do change course by February 8, the Bucks and Rockets figure to be among the teams with interest in Jordan, whose contract situation is worth monitoring. According to Kyler, there’s a belief that the veteran center won’t be able to top his $24.12MM player option as a free agent, meaning it’s possible he could decide to opt in for 2018/19. That possibility may affect how the Clippers and potential trade partners view Jordan at the deadline.

Here’s more from Kyler:

  • The Kings‘ veteran players are all potential trade candidates at the deadline, though some are more likely to be moved than others. George Hill, for example, won’t have much value, given his contract situation, his injury history, and his underwhelming play this season. Sources close to the situation tell Kyler that Sacramento seems to be trying to help its veterans find better situations as those players fall out of the team’s regular rotation.
  • Kyler hears that Nikola Mirotic‘s camp is pushing for the Bulls to pick up the forward’s $12.5MM team option for 2018/19. Until that team option is exercised, Mirotic has the ability to block a trade, giving him some leverage if Chicago wants to complete a deal. League sources tell Kyler that the Bulls have “gotten pretty far down the road” in talks with the Jazz and Pistons about Mirotic.
  • There’s “growing talk” around the NBA that the Heat would be open to the idea of moving Hassan Whiteside for the right mix of contracts and young players, Kyler writes. The Bucks and Cavaliers, both on the lookout for a center, would be obvious suitors, but it would tough for either team to make a deal, given Whiteside’s large cap hit ($23.78MM). John Henson, Mirza Teletovic, Tristan Thompson, and Iman Shumpert are among the players whose contracts might have to be included for Milwaukee or Cleveland to make a deal work, which doesn’t sound overly appealing for Miami.
  • The Mavericks are “dangling” some expiring contracts and appear to be seeking a promising prospect on a rookie scale deal, along with future picks, says Kyler. Dallas also has cap flexibility to take on a contract or two.

Cavs Notes: Thomas, Thompson, James, Lue

Isaiah Thomas has shot poorly in his last two outings and he attributes that to his ongoing recovery from his hip injury, as he told Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer and other media members. Thomas scored a combined 13 points on 5-for-26 shooting from the field against the Raptors and Timberwolves after averaging 18.0 PPG in his first two games with the Cavaliers“I knew it was going to be like this,” the point guard said. “I have no legs. So it’s going to take some time to get it back. Even when I played well those first two games I told coach [Tyronn] Lue it didn’t feel right. It was kinda fool’s gold.” Thomas sat out Friday’s game against the Pacers.

In other developments concerning the Cavaliers:

  • Center Tristan Thompson is doing his best to block out trade rumors that surfaced last week, as he relayed to Joe Vardon of the Cleveland Plain Dealer and other media members. Cleveland is reportedly willing to part with Thompson in order to land DeAndre Jordan from the Clippers. “That business side, people get paid to do that stuff. I get paid to be out there on the court and compete and do my job,” Thompson said. “Guys get paid to make decisions and move pieces around. For me, seven years in the league and seeing guys get traded and just understanding the business of basketball, it doesn’t faze me at all.”
  • Retirement isn’t on LeBron James radar screen at the moment, as he told Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today. James is enjoying one of his best statistical season and says he feels “great.” “The game will let you know when it’s over with,” James told Zillgitt. “Retirement for me is like getting engaged. I didn’t know if I was ready or not. I just felt it was the time. Timing was right. The vibe was right. … I definitely never had nobody in my family play in the NBA and retire. So, we’ll see.”
  • Some players are grumbling about Lue’s lineups, Vardon writes in a separate piece. Those team members are wondering if Thompson should be re-inserted into the lineup on a regular basis and believe power forward Channing Frye should receive more playing time, Vardon adds. The team had lost three straight entering Monday’s marquee matchup against the Warriors.
  • Lue doesn’t anticipate the team making any moves before the trade deadline, Vardon relays in another notebook.

Cavaliers Willing To Move Tristan Thompson

Multiple NBA teams have identified veteran center Tristan Thompson as a player the Cavaliers would be willing to move in the right deal, according to Shams Charania of Yahoo! Sports.

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.

Cavaliers Notes: Bogut, Trade Exception, Thomas, Thompson

The Cavaliers aren’t interested in bringing back Andrew Bogut, who was waived by the Lakers today, tweets Dave McMenamin of ESPN. Cleveland already has 15 players on its roster and isn’t willing to open a space to take another shot at the veteran center.

Bogut signed with the Cavs in March, but suffered a fractured left tibia 58 seconds into his first game with the team and was subsequently waived. The 33-year-old appeared in 24 games for L.A., but averaged just 9 minutes per night. He is hoping to sign with a contender if he clears waivers Monday.

There’s more news out of Cleveland:

  • Having 15 players with guaranteed contracts makes it unlikely the Cavaliers will use a $4.8MM trade exception before it expires Monday, writes Dan McCormack of AmicoHoops. With the team already far over the salary cap, the front office doesn’t want to take on extra salary that would result in higher luxury-tax penalties. Cleveland is unlikely to hand out any 10-day contracts for the same reason, McCormack adds, with any roster moves expected to come through trades.
  • Isaiah Thomas is making his first start of the season tonight in Orlando, McCormack adds in a separate piece. The high-scoring guard, who was acquired from Boston in the Kyrie Irving trade, put up 17 points in 19 minutes Tuesday in his first game since recovering from a hip injury. LeBron James believes Thomas will provide an instant boost to the offense. “It definitely adds another playmaker on the floor, another shotmaker on the floor, another guy who can command a double-team, especially off pick-and-rolls,” James said.
  • Tristan Thompson has been criticized for his lack of production, but he is beginning to contribute again after returning from a calf injury, McCormack notes in another story. The former starting center, who has taken over Channing Frye‘s role as the first big man off the bench, is averaging eight rebounds per game over the past three contests. “I think it’s getting back into rhythm,” Thompson said. “Especially, a guy like me. My whole strength is flow of the game. You take that away for six weeks, the first couple of games back was like a training camp.”

Addition Of Thomas Has Swift Impact On Cavs

Isaiah Thomas impacts the Cavaliers in a number of ways, as Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer breaks down. Thomas adds another dimension to the starting lineup, with LeBron James and Thomas sharing playmaking duties.

“It’ll be a good balance,” coach Tyronn Lue told the assembled media. “I just think LeBron has the ball, Isaiah is going to have the ball. They just play off each other. That’s what I like. I like being able to have two ball handlers in that first unit that can create and score the basketball and also playing off Kevin [Love].”

Dwyane Wade, who has played a lot at the point this season, can return to his usual shooting guard spot with Thomas on the floor. Thomas had 17 points and three assists in his season debut Tuesday.

“He’s a scorer, and when he has the ball it allows me to be a scorer and not have to worry about being a playmaker,” Wade said. “I can be a little more aggressive, so it was fun.”

Thomas’ return is also a boon to center Tristan Thompson in pick-and-roll situations, freeing the big man to get garbage baskets. “When [Thomas] raises to shoot, bigs are trying to contest his shot and that gives T-Top a free run at the rim to get those offensive rebounds,” Lue said.

In other Thomas-related news:

  • Thomas may have been a high-scoring All-Star last season but he felt like he was starting his career all over again on Tuesday, as he told Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports“I couldn’t sleep (Monday) night,” Thomas said. “This was a crucial moment for me to step foot on the floor. New team, new arena … I’ve felt like I didn’t know what to expect, what it felt like to be on an NBA court. I felt like a rookie.”
  • Thomas went from the last pick of the 2011 draft to one of the game’s most dynamic players, and James has a deep appreciation for Thomas’ work ethic, as he relayed to Joe Vardon of the Cleveland Plain Dealer and other writers. “What I like most about him is he has a chip on his shoulder for life,” James said. “That’s just who he is. When a guy’s got a chip on his shoulder for life he ain’t going to, he’s never going to not work hard.” 

Cavaliers Notes: Thomas, Thompson, Green, James

The Cavaliers still aren’t sure when injured guard Isaiah Thomas will be ready for his season debut, writes Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com. Thomas will get his first chance to play alongside his Cavaliers teammates during the team’s practice today. He scrimmaged with the organization’s G League affiliate in Canton last week. Coach Tyronn Lue said the purpose of today’s workout is to “get some shots up, cover defensive rules and principles and also scrimmage a little bit so Isaiah can get a feel and play 5 on 5.”

When the Cavs departed on their current three-game road trip, they were hoping to have Thomas ready at some point. But he was held out of games at Golden State and Sacramento, and his status for Saturday’s contest in Utah is uncertain. Lue originally told reporters that Thomas wouldn’t play against the Jazz, but later said “I don’t know” to follow-up questions about his availability.

Cleveland travels to Boston next Wednesday, which would be a dramatic setting for Thomas to return, but Vardon speculates that Tuesday’s home game against the Trail Blazers is more likely. The Cavs were wary about throwing Thomas into a high-profile game against the Warriors and would likely view the Celtics the same way. Another possible date is January 6, when Thomas has a new shoe coming out and Cleveland plays at Orlando.

There’s more today out of Cleveland:

  • Tristan Thompson is putting up the worst numbers of his career and may be a trade candidate before the February 8 deadline, Vardon writes in a separate piece. Thompson’s playing time has been cut to 17.7 minutes per game and he is averaging just 4.1 points and 4.8 rebounds. He has been on a minutes restriction since missing 20 games with a strained left calf muscle, and the team has been successful with Kevin Love as the starting center.
  • Free agent addition Jeff Green has taken on several roles since coming to Cleveland, notes Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. Following the worst season of his career last year in Orlando, Green is happy in his new role with the Cavs. “I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t have any expectation,” Green said. “When I talked to T. Lue — we didn’t know back then, didn’t know the personnel that was going to be all in the locker room. It was just, ‘Jeff come in and be Jeff.’ Last year was a rough year so it was, ‘Jeff come in and be the player I know you can be. Play hard and things will fall into place.’ And that’s what’s happened.”
  • LeBron James is putting up amazing numbers in his 15th NBA season, but the secrets to his longevity happened years ago, writes Dave McMenamin of ESPN.

Kyler’s Latest: Jordan, Gasol, Bazemore, Hornets

The NBA trade deadline is just over seven weeks away, so it’s only a matter of time before teams start discussing potential deals a little more earnestly. In anticipation of trade talks heating up, Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders takes a closer look at a handful of players whose names figure to come up frequently in trade rumors in the coming weeks, passing along the latest nuggets of info on each of those guys. Here are a few highlights from Kyler’s piece:

  • Source close to the situation tell Kyler that a Cavaliers offer for DeAndre Jordan would be built around Tristan Thompson, Iman Shumpert, and a first-round pick, though Cleveland is only willing to discuss its own pick at this point, rather than the Nets’ first-rounder. It remains to be seen whether the Clippers will be willing to move Jordan, but the big man’s future in L.A. is “anything but clear,” writes Kyler.
  • More and more people around the NBA believe that the Grizzlies would be willing to explore the market for Marc Gasol, but it may require Gasol telling them he wants out, per Kyler.
  • League sources tell Kyler that the Hawks might be open to moving Kent Bazemore for the right combination of expiring contracts and a first-round pick. Even if that pick is “highly protected,” as Kyler suggests, I’d be very surprised if any team is willing to pay that price for Bazemore, who is owed $18MM+ in 2018/19 and $19MM+ in 2019/20.
  • The prevailing belief around the league is that the Hornets would like to move one of their big contracts, such as Michael Kidd-Gilchrist‘s. However, Charlotte would likely need to attach a young player to a deal in order to dump salary. Kyler suggests Malik Monk and Dwayne Bacon likely aren’t going anywhere, identifying Frank Kaminsky as a possible name to watch.
  • The Magic and Kings are also worth keeping an eye on, according to Kyler, who identifies Nikola Vucevic and George Hill as a pair of potential trade candidates. Orlando isn’t looking to shake things up for the sake of it, but Vucevic figures to draw interest. As for Hill, his significant cap hit limits his trade value, but he’d probably “welcome a move,” says Kyler.

Cavaliers Notes: Thompson, James, Wade, Korver

Cavaliers center Tristan Thompson could return to action as soon as Tuesday but he’s lost his starting job, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer’s Joe Vardon. Thompson has missed 19 games with a strained left calf. Kevin Love was moved to center in his absence and coach Tyronn Lue wants Love to remain there. Lue also told reporters that Channing Frye would stay in the rotation, which could also cut into Thompson’s playing time, Vardon notes. Lue said that the staff needs to “figure out how we got to use him,” referring to Thompson. At least publicly, Thompson doesn’t want to make waves about his role. “If I don’t play, that’s fine,” Thompson told Vardon and other media members. “As long as we’re winning I’m going to cheer my teammates on. If I play two minutes, three minutes, 20 minutes, it don’t matter to me. As long as we win.”

In other news regarding the Cavs:

  • LeBron James ability to defy the aging curve has been a rare and remarkable feat, as ESPN.com’s Kevin Pelton details. His true shooting percentage of 65.8% this season is a career high, boosted by another career-best, his 3-point shooting (41.7%). That’s likely to decline as the season continues but he’s also taking more shots within three feet of the basket and converting a career-best 5.3 layups per game, Pelton continues. Additionally, he’s posting a career best in defensive block rate, something else that normally declines with age, Pelton notes. However, his overall defensive value has declined and his athleticism will also start to dip in his mid-30s, which could eventually become an issue for James, Pelton adds.
  • Combo guard Dwyane Wade knew from the beginning of the season he was more suited to a sixth man role with the club, USA Today’s Jeff Zillgitt writes. Wade is averaging 12.3 PPG, 4.0 APG and 3.8 RPG when he comes off the bench this season and Zillgitt points out that the Cavs have a net efficiency rating of plus-10.8 with Wade on the court as a reserve. “I knew for me to be successful and for me to come to this team and bring what I can to this team, the starting unit just wasn’t a unit for me,” he told Zillgitt. “So, I decided to go to the unit that was for me.”
  • Handing shooting guard Kyle Korver a contract extension over the summer drew criticism but now seems like a wise investment, Terry Pluto of the Plain Dealer opines. Korver, 36, signed a three-year, $22MM contract. He’s shooting 43.3% from long range and leads the team in plus-minus rating.

Cavaliers Rumors: Rose, Thompson, Rotation

Cavaliers point guard Derrick Rose spoke to reporters today for the first time since returning from his time away from the club, and revealed a few more details about the ankle injury that has sidelined him for the last month. As Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com relays, Rose said he’s battling a bone spur, and if his rehab process doesn’t take, he may need to undergo a surgical procedure.

“It’s all about first getting the area to calm down and then strengthening your leg back up again,” Rose said. “So, afterwards, we may have to have a procedure but who knows.”

According to Vardon, it wasn’t clear whether Rose was referring to the possibility of undergoing surgery after the season or sooner than that. Either way, it doesn’t sound like great news for the oft-injured point guard, whose recent absence from the Cavaliers stemmed from an overwhelming frustration with his ongoing health problems.

Here’s more on Rose and the Cavs:

  • When Rose was contemplating his basketball future, much was made of his Adidas contract, which still has a reported $80MM left on it. However, the former MVP said today that the endorsement money wasn’t a factor in his decision, per Vardon. “Not to be rude — I don’t care about no (expletive) money,” Rose said. “It’s not about that. I’ve saved up enough money. It’s not about that. If I wanted to leave, I would have left. Like I said, coming back here, starting with rehab that’s my first step. Keeping it simple and just giving my team support and then I’ll see what I see off the court.”
  • Rose apologized to his Cavaliers teammates at Wednesday’s shootaround for his recent absence, a team source told Dave McMenamin of ESPN. Multiple Cavs, including LeBron James, had previously said that Rose didn’t owe the club an apology. “It wasn’t a big deal and didn’t need to be,” the team source said of the apology, per McMenamin.
  • Injured big man Tristan Thompson had been hoping to get back on the court for the Cavs this week, but he experienced soreness in his troublesome left calf on Wednesday, which may delay his return. Vardon has the details at Cleveland.com.
  • In his latest mailbag for Cleveland.com, Vardon examines how the Cavs’ rotation may change when Thompson returns, and discusses the viability of a potential trade involving Rose.

Cavaliers Notes: Thomas, Thompson, James, Wade

Injured Cavaliers Isaiah Thomas and Tristan Thompson participated in a four-on-four scrimmage this morning, relays Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com. Coach Tyronn Lue and his assistants were watching, along with some of the front office. Rookies Cedi Osman and Ante Zizic also played, along with four members of the player development staff.

Thompson has been sidelined since November 1 because of a strained left calf muscle, and the team is hoping he can return this week, although he has already been ruled out for tonight’s game. Thomas hasn’t played since last season’s Eastern Conference finals due to a torn labrum and other issues with his right hip. Vardon says the Cavaliers would like to have him back for their Christmas game with Golden State.

“At the end of the day it’s all about the next day,” LeBron James said. “When they say they feel good the next day after a workout session, that’s great to know.”

There’s more news out of Cleveland:

  • James is using a video game to help him adjust to teaming with Thomas, Vardon adds in the same story. James said he has been able to imagine what it will be like to join forces with the former Celtics star “because I play a lot of [NBA]2K.”
  • Fitting Thomas into an already-successful lineup may be a difficult transition, writes Ryan Wolstat of The Toronto Sun. After stumbling through the early season, the Cavs have strung together 12 straight wins and have found a winning combination with Jose Calderon as the starting point guard and Dwyane Wade running the second unit. However, Thomas, who averaged 28.9 PPG in Boston last season, is used to controlling the ball and may not fit as well with the other starters as Calderon. He is also considered a poor defender because of his size and may reverse the team’s progress in that area.
  • Wade is providing an example of an aging star gracefully moving into the late stages of his career, writes Bill Livingston of Cleveland.com. After starting the first three games of the season, Wade asked the coaching staff to make him a reserve for the first time since he came to the NBA. He has responded by doing a lot of unglamorous things, ranking second on the team in blocks and assists and third in rebounding and steals.
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