Tristan Thompson

Central Notes: Cavaliers, Bulls, Oladipo

Following last Thursday’s loss to the Wizards, Cavaliers players expressed disappointment that the team doesn’t seem to be making any positive progress, as Chris Fedor of details. Tristan Thompson suggested the club seems to be “at a standstill,” while Kevin Love said he feels as if the Cavs should be better than they are.

“We have to start trending in the right direction again because we felt like we were playing good basketball, even in a couple of the losses we had, and these are uncharacteristic — losing by double-digits to these two teams,” Love said following a series of Cavaliers losses to Chicago, New York, and Washington. “Nothing against them, we just feel like similar records and these are teams we can compete with, especially on our home floor. We should have a chance to really win.”

While the Cavaliers may shake up their roster a little prior to the trade deadline, there are no guarantees that veterans like Thompson and Love will be moved, so it’s no surprise they’d like to see the team become more competitive if they’re going to remain in Cleveland for the rest of the season. Things didn’t get any better on Saturday, when the Cavs lost at home to the Bulls to extend their losing streak to seven games.

Here’s more from around the Central:

  • Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times wonders if there’s any chance the Bulls could be buyers, rather than sellers, at this year’s trade deadline. Head coach Jim Boylen said those conversations haven’t taken place yet – at least not with him in the room – but he’d be happy if the team stands pat. “I love the guys we have, and we’re going to keep coaching and teaching the guys we have, and I’ve got a good group, a willing group, a coachable group,” Boylen said. “It’s going to be ‘we and us,’ and ‘we and us’ are going to keep working.”
  • Nathan Brown of The Indianapolis Star spoke to knee specialist Dr. Rodney Benner to get a sense of what Pacers star Victor Oladipo might look like upon returning from his year-long injury. “It’s going to be a little bit, trial-and-error isn’t the right word for it, but there’s going to be some adjusting of activity up and down to see what he can handle, just because it’s such an uncommon injury that it’s hard to predict,” Benner said of Oladipo, who remains on track to make his season debut on Wednesday.
  • In case you missed it, we passed along a handful of Bulls notes and Pacers items over the weekend.

Mavs Notes: Porzingis, Noah, Powell Replacements, Trade Options

Kristaps Porzingis could see a lot more action at center the remainder of the season, according to Eddie Sefko of the team’s website. The Mavericks need to replace the minutes of Dwight Powell, who is out for the season with a ruptured right Achilles. When paired with Maxi Kleber, Porzingis can play either center or power forward. Porzingis can utilize his playmaking skills from the middle, as he did for a stretch against the Clippers on Tuesday.

“We’ve done it some,” coach Rick Carlisle said while adding, “The bind you get in is with rebounding and that was obvious in the second half. We were really up against it on the boards. … But in terms of the lineup and everything else, there’s a lot of things we’ve got to keep on the table.”

We have more on the Mavericks:

  • The Mavs’ front office has made contact with free agent center Joakim Noah, Tim MacMahon of ESPN tweets. However, the team has concerns about Noah’s health and is also looking at overseas and G League options, MacMahon adds. Noah, 34, appeared in 34 games with the Grizzlies last season. Dallas would have to open up a roster spot to bring in a free agent.
  • Washington’s Ian Mahinmi, Minnesota’s Gorgui Dieng and Golden State’s Willie Cauley-Stein and Cleveland’s Tristan Thompson are some of the trade options the team could pursue in the wake of Powell’s injury, Sefko writes in a separate piece.  Rookie Isaiah Roby and Justin Jackson could also pick up some of those minutes, Sefko adds, and the Mavs might pursue another G League option, Ray Spalding, of the Greensboro Swarm, who was on Dallas’ roster for part of last season.
  • Even before Powell’s injury, the team was perusing the trade market for players with size who can score 15 points a game, according to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst (video link). “They have assets. They have a trade exception, they have Courtney Lee, who’s a contract that can be traded. Watch out for them,” Windhorst said.
  • The Mavs have two trade exceptions available to utilize prior to February’s deadline, including one worth over $11.8MM. Check out the list of all trade exceptions here.

Trade Rumors: Bucks, Rockets, Covington, Heat, More

With teams around the NBA looking for ways to upgrade their roster in advance of the February 6 trade deadline, Chris Mannix of wonders whether the 37-6 Bucks would be better off just standing pat. As Mannix notes, most general managers are inclined to give stock answers about being opportunistic and always looking for favorable deals, but Milwaukee might not want to even risk disrupting the team’s chemistry.

“The stock answer is true,” Bucks GM Jon Horst told Mannix. “Of course we are going to look around. Of course we are going to do our jobs. But we are going to be incredibly patient and incredibly protective of what we have. I think that’s fair and I think that’s smart. It doesn’t mean that we’re not going to do anything or that we shouldn’t do anything. But we have guys here that have shown they can impact games.”

Here are a few more notes and rumors related to the NBA’s trade market:

  • The Rockets have shown previous interest in Timberwolves forward Robert Covington, but that interest has cooled and Houston isn’t currently pursuing him, an executive with knowledge of the team’s thinking tells Kelly Iko of The Athletic.
  • ESPN’s Zach Lowe thinks the Heat are one player away from being “really dangerous” and hears from sources that the team is actively looking for that piece. According to Lowe, there has been plenty of speculation around the NBA about Miami – and other teams – targeting Jrue Holiday, but potential suitors don’t expect the Pelicans to move him this season.
  • The Hawks‘ trade interest in Andre Drummond – which has apparently ended – was believed to be more ownership-driven, according to Chris Mannix of, who says the Pistons don’t have any real traction on a Drummond deal for now. Within his mailbag, Mannix also says he’d be surprised if the Warriors move D’Angelo Russell before the 2020 offseason.
  • Chris Fedor of says he’s gotten the sense that the Cavaliers have set an “internal price tag” on Tristan Thompson. Fedor believes the Cavs are probably unlikely to move the big man unless they get a first-round pick — a package like the one they got for Jordan Clarkson probably wouldn’t be enough.

Latest On Tristan Thompson

The Cavaliers participated in the first trade of the 2019/20 NBA season when they sent Jordan Clarkson to Utah last week, and they likely aren’t done dealing. There’s a widespread belief that Cleveland is willing to sell off more veterans for draft picks and young assets, according to Chris Fedor of, who hears from sources that Tristan Thompson is drawing interest from playoff contenders around the NBA.

Thompson, 28, is having arguably his best season as a pro so far in 2019/20, with 12.8 PPG, 10.1 RPG, 2.3 APG, 1.0 BPG, and a .503 FG% through 31 games (31.4 MPG). He has also helped anchor the Cavs’ defense and has been a leader in the locker room.

While Thompson would certainly appeal to contenders, his $18.5MM+ expiring contract won’t necessarily be easy to move. Many clubs with title aspirations don’t have the contracts necessary to match that salary in a trade, which will limit Cleveland’s options.

While a deal remains possible, both the Cavaliers and Thompson are considering the possibility of continuing their relationship beyond this season. According to Fedor, Thompson said on Monday that it’d be “cool” to finish his career in Cleveland. Meanwhile, the Cavs have had internal conversations about re-signing the big man and would be open to an extension, sources tell Fedor. However, there’s a belief that agent Rich Paul would prefer to see his client reach free agency in 2020.

For now, Thompson is letting Paul and the Cavaliers handle any trade or contract talks while he focuses on what he control and attempts to block out the speculation.

“Take it one game at a time,” Thompson said. “Keep the main goal the main goal, which is to come out and compete with my guys and be ready to go to war.”

Central Notes: Middleton, Thompson, Holidays, LaVine

Khris Middleton is making his new five-year, $178MM contract seem like a wise investment, writes Matt Velazquez of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Middleton has become more efficient, putting up numbers close to his career averages in just 27.8 minutes per game, the fewest since his rookie season. The 29-5 Bucks have been so dominant that they haven’t had to rely as heavily on their top players.

Middleton is averaging 18.7 points, 5.6 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game, and his numbers rise to 24.1/7.2/4.9 on a per-36-minute basis. He is making a strong bid for his second straight All-Star appearance, even though he’s not as well known as many other stars.

“I think that’s the way he likes it; he’s going to go out there and do his job every night regardless of if people recognize him or not,” teammate Brook Lopez said. “It’s not important to him. I think – I don’t think, I know – the guys in the locker room and on the coaching staff appreciate what he does, no question, night in and night out. That’s what matters to him. He’s just trying to go out there and win.”

Here’s more from around the Central:

 There’s more from the Central Division:
  • Tristan Thompson is too important to the Cavaliers‘ future to be traded away, argues Chris Fedor of Thompson is one of four expiring contracts left on Cleveland’s roster after this week’s trade of Jordan Clarkson, and Fedor thinks the Cavs should try to re-sign him to help stabilize the rebuilding process. Not only is Thompson excelling on the court, averaging 12.8 points and 10.1 rebounds per night, but he is seen as a leader by his young teammates and was an outspoken defender of John Beilein after reports surfaced earlier this month that many players had lost confidence in their new coach.
  • History was made last night in New Orleans as Pacers guards Aaron Holiday and Justin Holiday were on the court at the same time as their brother, Jrue, notes Scott Agness of The Athletic. Justin opted to sign with Indiana as a free agent over the summer so he could play alongside his little brother. “He’s just being there and helping me feel more comfortable,” Aaron said. “He’s been in the league for a while so he knows the ropes, and I’m pretty much just following his lead. He’s obviously a leader at heart and in the way he works.”
  • Zach LaVine is thinking about returning to the dunk contest to try to reclaim his title, relays Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. The Bulls guard won the competition in 2015 and 2016. ‘‘I know I’ve still got some dunks left, and my legs have been feeling good,” he said. “Maybe I’ll have to go practice, but I don’t know yet. I’ll probably have to let the NBA know soon.’’

Central Notes: Pistons, Young, Thompson, Garland

Now that 119 of this summer’s free agents have become trade-eligible, per ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Twitter link), several playoff-bubble teams have some tough choices to make. Should they shore up their present with moves that may compromise their future (i.e. trading draft picks or still-developing younger players to improve veteran depth), or should they pivot to selling off their more attractive trade options in the hopes of accruing more forward-looking assets?

Rod Beard of The Detroit News cautions Pistons fans about hoping their squad will opt for a complete teardown with trade season in full swing. Beard asserts that owner Tom Gores wants to his team to contend for playoff appearances. The Pistons have a middling 11-15 record, good for just the No. 10 seed in the Eastern Conference.

In further Pistons roster talk, The Athletic’s James L. Edwards III examines Detroit’s best and worst trade options throughout their roster. He considers bench guards Derrick Rose and Langston Galloway, plus the expiring $18.1MM contract of starter Reggie Jackson, the team’s most realistic trade chips.

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • After reports indicated Bulls forward Thaddeus Young was unhappy with his playing time in Chicago, he logged more minutes on Wednesday against the Hawks and on Friday against the Hornets. K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago notes that Young’s increased playing time has cut into starting power forward Lauri Markkanen‘s minutes. Young played more minutes than Markkanen during Chicago’s 83-73 loss to Charlotte. Young signed a three-year, $41MM contract with the Bulls this summer to be a veteran mentor to the young team.
  • Cavaliers starting center Tristan Thompson downplayed a heated exchange with coach John Beilein during a 117-109 overtime win against the Spurs on Thursday. Chris Fedor of documents Thompson’s thoughts on the incident. “[Beilein] understands my passion for the game,” Thompson said. “I understand his passion for the game. It’s just family members getting into a quick discussion… We’ve moved on.” 
  • The Cavaliers have found a new role for rookie guard Darius Garland in their revamped rotation: second unit leader. Though Garland still starts, he has been spending more time with the Cavs bench lately, as Chris Fedor of details“The coaches say I’m more aggressive with the second group,” Garland said.

Mixed Opinions On Kevin Love’s Trade Value

Trade season is nearing and Kevin Love‘s name is again popping up. However, the latest tidbit isn’t particularly favorable to the Cavaliers. Jason Lloyd of The Athletic hears from multiple sources that the team is going to have a difficult time dealing Love because of his massive contract.

Love has three years and roughly $91MM left on his deal after this season and some teams are asking the Cavaliers to attach a first-rounder or other asset to the big man in order to move him. While that stance exists, it is not uniform throughout the league.

Cleveland is seeking a first-rounder in exchange for Love and Lloyd hears from one rival executive that the franchise may end up netting that asset in a trade. It may all depend on how much salary the Cavaliers are willing to take back in addition to the pick.

“I don’t think it’s distracted anything right now,” coach John Beilein said of the trade rumors. “I’ve been hearing that since the time I was hired. We want Kevin to go out there and play his best every single day for the Cleveland Cavaliers.”

Lloyd names the Celtics, Trail Blazers, and Mavericks as teams that make sense as a trade partner based on his conversations with people around the league. Portland might seem like an odd fit with Carmelo Anthony playing well at power forward, but some around the game believe Melo’s game will fade as the season goes along.

The Cavaliers have essentially made “everyone but [Darius Garland]” available. The franchise wants to find way to gain additional first-round picks and would love to flip a player on an expiring deal for one. That’s unlikely to happen even for Tristan Thompson, who is playing some of the best basketball of his career. Trading Love while taking some money back may be Cleveland’s only route to its desired asset.

Central Notes: Thompson, George, Pacers, Valentine

Cavaliers center Tristan Thompson wasn’t happy about the fact that a report surfaced last week anonymously quoting three of his teammates who were critical of John Beilein‘s head coaching style. Thompson came to Beilein’s defense over the weekend and fired back at the teammates quoted in that report, according to Chris Fedor of

“Y’all better find them names ’cause I’ll pull up on ’em right now,” Thompson said. “You can’t do that s–t. At the end of the day if you’re going to build a culture and a family, you can’t have that Chatty Patty s–t going on. That s–t is whack to me.

“Everyone’s got to look in the mirror, there’s only so much coach can do and there’s only so much we can do,” Thompson continued. “Do we have the best roster in the NBA? No. But we’re going to go out there and compete every night. Guys got to look in the mirror. So I hope whoever reported that was just bulls——g and blamed it on a player.”

Here’s more from around the Central:

  • After getting a rough reception from Pacers fans on Sunday, Paul George said he’s not the one those fans should be booing. What exactly did he mean? “The belief in Indiana is that he’s referring to Larry Bird,” ESPN’s Brian Windhorst said this week on an episode of The Jump (video link). Bird, now an advisor in Indiana, was formerly the team’s president of basketball operations and pushed George to move from small forward to power forward, something PG13 didn’t want to do, as Windhorst details.
  • Speaking of the Pacers, they look like they could become a legitimate threat in the Eastern Conference once they get Victor Oladipo back in their lineup, writes Jonathan Tjarks of The Ringer.
  • It has been up-and-down season so far for Denzel Valentine, who was out of the Bulls‘ rotation until late November. As Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago notes, Valentine has been playing his best ball of the year recently, making at least three 3-pointers and scoring in double-digits in each of his last three games. The 26-year-old shooting guard will be a restricted free agent at season’s end.

Thompson, Clarkson Receiving Interest From Contenders

In an illuminating look at the state of the CavaliersSports 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.

Cavaliers Notes: Thompson, Dellavedova, Draft, Free Agency

Of the Cavaliers‘ five upcoming free agents, Tristan Thompson is the one they would most like to re-sign for the long term, Chris Fedor of writes in a mailbag column. Thompson is putting up the best numbers of his career this season, averaging 14.1 points and 10.4 rebounds per game. He is also a team leader whose work ethic serves as a model for a very young roster.

Sources tell Fedor that the team hasn’t had any conversations with Thompson’s agents about a possible extension. The front office believes he wouldn’t be willing to make a commitment now when he stands to get a huge payday next summer.

Fedor notes that the Cavs’ chances of keeping Thompson seem pretty good because most contenders are either set at center or won’t have much money to spend. One exception could be the Raptors, who have Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol with expiring contracts. Thompson is a Toronto native and may be interested in returning home with a more successful organization.

There’s more on the Cavaliers, all courtesy of Fedor:

  • Matthew Dellavedova, another impending free agent, will continue to get playing time despite his broken jumper. Coach John Beilein sees him as one of the team’s best defenders and leans on his ability to run the offense with the second unit. Dellavedova is shooting a career-worst 25% from the field and has made just 3-of-31 shots beyond the arc.
  • After selecting Collin Sexton and Darius Garland the past two years, the Cavaliers could face a difficult decision in a 2020 draft that filled with small guards. Fedor believes management would be willing to gamble on North Carolina’s Cole Anthony or Georgia’s Anthony Edwards if they believe they are better long-range prospects than Sexton or Garland. Another name to watch could be Israeli swingman Deni Avdija, who is expected to be the first international player off the board. Cavs general manager Koby Altman recently made a trip to see Avdija, and scouting director Brandon Weems is planning to watch his Maccabi Tel Aviv team later this season.
  • The Cavaliers’ rebuilding situation will limit their free agency appeal, so Fedor believes the best strategy could be to make a generous offer for a restricted free agent. Brandon Ingram would be at the top of that list, but the Pelicans will likely match any offer to the centerpiece of the Anthony Davis trade. Other options include the KingsBogdan Bogdanovic and the Suns‘ Dario Saric.