Tristan Thompson

Central Notes: Bender, Thompson, Clarkson, Beasley

The Cavaliers decided not to make a stronger play for Dragan Bender because he would have required too much guaranteed money, according to Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. Bender signed a two-year, $3.5MM deal with the Bucks last month that includes a partial guarantee of about $600K. Cleveland was hesitant to give that much to a player who wouldn’t have been a sure thing to make the roster.

After being selected with the fourth pick in the 2016 draft, Bender put up three uninspiring years in Phoenix, including averages of 5.0 points and 4.0 rebounds in 46 games last season. He was an unrestricted free agent because the Suns declined his fourth-year option in October.

Instead of giving money to Bender, the Cavs opted for former Clippers guard Sindarius Thornwell, who will come to camp on a non-guaranteed minimum contract. With Cleveland less than $3MM away from the luxury tax line, guaranteeing money for a player like Bender would have been risky.

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • Tristan Thompson and Jordan Clarkson would have been available for trades earlier this summer, Fedor adds in the same story. Both will be free agents next July, and moving their salaries ($18.5MM for Thompson and $13.4MM for Clarkson) could offer the chance for cap relief. With training camp about six weeks away, Fedor doesn’t expect the Cavaliers to move either player soon, but their names should resurface closer to the February deadline.
  • Michael Beasley‘s agreement with the Pistons is expected to be non-guaranteed, according to Vince Ellis of The Detroit Free Press. Beasley will battle Christian Wood, who was claimed off waivers last month, for the final roster spot. With the signing of Derrick Rose, Detroit has added the top two picks in the 2008 draft this summer.
  • Better ball movement will be an emphasis for the Bulls this year, writes Mark Strotman of NBC Sports Chicago. The team ranked near the bottom of the league last season in assist ratio, effective field goal percentage and several other key offensive categories. Chicago is counting on several offseason additions, such as the signing of Thaddeus Young, to help improve in those areas.

Team Canada Dealing With Depleted Roster

Much has been made of the withdrawals from Team USA by prominent players as it prepares for the FIBA World Cup in China this summer. Team Canada has experienced similar issues.

Canada Basketball unveiled its training camp roster in a press release and many notable names are missing. Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Dillon Brooks, Brandon Clarke, Luguentz Dort, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Mfiondu Kabengele, Naz Mitrou-Long, Trey Lyles, Dwight Powell, Marial Shayok, Nik Stauskas, and Tristan Thompson were among the invitees who opted not to participate.

Knicks lottery pick RJ Barrett and Nuggets guard Jamal Murray are on the roster but will only participate in training camp. Barrett is dealing with a mild calf strain, while Murray is nursing an ankle injury, Blake Murphy of The Athletic tweets.

Among the NBA players who are on the roster and intend to participate in the tournament are Kings guard Cory Joseph, Heat forward Kelly Olynyk, Magic center Khem Birch and Raptors big man Chris Boucher. Toronto’s Nick Nurse is the head coach of the team, which will play seven exhibition games before its FIBA opener against Australia on September 1.

Gordon, McCollum Withdraw From U.S. World Cup Team

Two more potential Team USA players have decided not to participate in the 2019 World Cup. Rockets guard Eric Gordon is withdrawing from the team, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic, and Trail Blazers guard C.J. McCollum is joining him, according to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link).

With James Harden and Anthony Davis pulling out of the competition earlier this week, Team USA is now left with 16 players in training camp who will compete for 12 spots. The withdrawing players all said they want to focus on the upcoming season rather than the tournament, which will be held in China from August 31 to September 15. NBA training camps open in late September.

One of those remaining players, Kyle Lowry, had a surgical procedure on his thumb this week, and may not be physically ready to participate. His potential absence, plus the withdrawal of the four stars, should create more opportunity for members of the select team, who will be scrimmaging with the 16 players left in camp.

The players will gather for camp from August 5-8, and exhibition games will follow later in the month.

Canada’s World Cup team also lost an NBA player this week when Tristan Thompson elected not to participate, Charania tweets. In addition, Ben Simmons confirmed that he won’t be taking the court for Australia.

And-Ones: Paul, Sylla, Tampering, Canada

In an interesting piece regarding Chris Paul‘s role as the head of the NBA Players Union, Tom Ziller of SB Nation opines that Paul’s reported insistence and hand in incorporating the Over-38 Rule into the 2017 CBA has now ironically landed him with one the most untradeable contracts in the NBA.

Paul, who is admittedly now under contract to make more money because of the rule change, is also stuck on the Thunder, a non-contending team, with no real way out until later this year when the latest crop of free agents become trade eligible.

Ultimately, Ziller opines that the tradeoff (non-contending team vs. an extra $45MM) was worth it for Paul, but wonders whether CP3, as union president, sacrificed the good of many (mid-level earners) for the benefit of few.

We have more odds and ends to report from around the basketball world:

  • Amar Sylla, the No. 23 prospect for the 2020 NBA Draft, has signed a three-year contract containing NBA out clauses with Belgian league champions BC Oostende, reports Jonathan Givony of ESPN.
  • Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer writes that many executives believe the penalty for tampering needs to be harsher, including the removal of first-round picks or even as severe as being barred from trading any picks for some amount of years in addition to the loss of picks. “Basketball operations needs to get hit the hardest, not an owner’s wallets,” said another executive.
  • Canada Basketball has announced the 29 players invited to attend the Senior Men’s National Team training camp ahead of the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019. The list includes R.J. Barrett, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Cory Joseph, Jamal Murray, and Tristan Thompson.

Windhorst’s Latest: Beal, Teague, Dragic, Covington, More

After a star-studded group of free agents hit the open market this summer, 2020’s free agent class isn’t expected to nearly as impressive, so front offices expect trades to “take center stage” over the next year, writes ESPN’s Brian Windhorst.

According to Windhorst, Bradley Beal‘s name is the one that keeps coming up when executives around the NBA discuss potential trade candidates, since the Wizards are facing a possible rebuilding – or at least retooling – process. However, sources tell Windhorst that Washington’s front office continues to resist inquiries on its All-Star shooting guard.

Here’s more from Windhorst’s article about possible trade targets from around the league:

  • Jeff Teague (Timberwolves) and Goran Dragic (Heat), two veteran point guards on expiring $19MM contracts, were recently discussed in possible deals, Windhorst confirms. Since Minnesota missed out on D’Angelo Russell and Miami found another way to complete its Jimmy Butler sign-and-trade, Teague and Dragic may end up staying put. Neither the Wolves nor the Heat are especially deep at the point guard spot, so if either club deals its veteran guard, it would need to line up another option at the position, Windhorst notes.
  • The Timberwolves were dangling Robert Covington in an effort to move up in the draft, but eventually dealt Dario Saric instead. Still, league executives wouldn’t be surprised if Covington is back on the trade market at some point in 2019/20, says Windhorst.
  • Windhorst is skeptical that the Grizzlies will be able to get a real asset in return for Andre Iguodala, suggesting that Memphis’ efforts to trade him may still eventually lead to a buyout.
  • The Cavaliers will likely try to move Tristan Thompson or John Henson by the trade deadline, according to Windhorst. Both big men are on expiring deals, with Thompson owed $18.5MM while Henson will make $10.5MM.

Cavs Notes: Smith, Coaching Search, Expiring Deals, Draft

Cavaliers GM Koby Altman told reporters Friday that he has already been contacted by a team interested in trading for J.R. Smith, relays Joe Vardon of The Athletic. The interest isn’t so much in Smith as a player – he parted ways with the team in November and only appeared in 11 games this season – but in his contract, which is valued at $14.72MM but carries only a $3.87MM guarantee.

[RELATED: Why J.R. Smith May (Or May Not) Be A Valuable Offseason Trade Chip]

A team looking to unload salary could deal for Smith and be on the hook for just $1.29MM annually if he is waived and stretched over three seasons. The Cavaliers showed a willingness this year to take on unwanted contracts in exchange for draft picks, trading for Brandon Knight, Marquese Chriss, Matthew Dellavedova and Nik Stauskas.

“We are actually the only team in the NBA that can provide guaranteed cap relief from teams or salary relief until July 1,” Altman said. “We can guarantee that right now and we actually had a phone call yesterday on that (Smith) trade chip, so, we’re going to keep on being aggressive adding those assets because we do eventually want to consolidate and be really good at some point.”

There’s more from Cleveland, all courtesy of Vardon:

  • Altman promised an “open-minded” approach to the team’s coaching search and brought up the possibility of making history by hiring a woman for the job. Though he couldn’t mention her by name because she’s under contract, Spurs assistant Becky Hammon is an obvious candidate if Altman wants a female coach. Hammon interviewed for the Bucks’ head-coaching job last year, ran the Spurs’ summer league team and has a player development background, which Vardon states is important to the Cavaliers.
  • Other coaching possibilities that Cavs players mentioned to Vardon include the Nets’ Bret Brielmaier, the Mavericks’ Jamahl Mosley and the Trail Blazers’ Nate Tibbetts. All three have previous experience in Cleveland. Altman said interviews will begin soon with candidates whose teams aren’t in the playoffs.
  • The Cavaliers believe their expiring contracts for next season might generate some interest on the trade market this summer. Knight and Dellavedova will both be free agents in 2020, along with John Henson, Jordan Clarkson and Tristan Thompson.
  • Cleveland won a tiebreaker with the Suns for second place in the draft order heading into next month’s lottery. If they Cavs do wind up with the No. 2 pick, Vardon notes, their view of what type of player Collin Sexton will develop into may determine whether they opt for a point guard in Ja Morant or a wing player in R.J. Barrett.

Central Notes: Oladipo, Sumner, Thompson, Bledsoe

Pacers star Victor Oladipo posted a message on social media thanking his fans, teammates and players around the league for supporting him after suffering a season-ending injury last week. Oladipo, 26, ruptured the quad tendon in his right knee and is scheduled for season-ending surgery.

“The amount of support, love and prayers that I have received over the past few days have been breathtaking and has truly inspired me to come back even better than before,” he wrote on Instagram. “Thank you to everyone including all my teammates, pacer fans and staff. Thank you to all the NBA fans around the world and all my brothers around the league who texted, called, tweeted and posted me I am truly thankful. It’s going to be tough but tough times don’t last, tough people do.”

Oladipo was in the midst of another solid season with Indiana before getting injured, holding per-game averages of 18.8 points, 5.6 rebounds and 5.2 assists. His injury was a crushing blow to a Pacers team focused on making a deep postseason run in the spring.

“I will be back better than ever and if you question that well, thank you,” Oladipo wrote. “Greater is he that is in me than he that is in the world. I am #UnBreakable.”

The Pacers currently hold the third best record in the East at 32-16, with the team still set on competing for the postseason behind the likes of Myles Turner, Tyreke Evans, Thaddeus Young and others.

There’s more from the Central Division today:

  • Pacers guard Edmond Sumner could receive more minutes going forward with the loss of Oladipo, J. Michael writes for the Indy Star. “There’ll be some nights that we may look to go to him off the bench,” said coach Nate McMillan. “There’s some nights where we can look at going with Ed off the bench instead of Aaron because it does give us more length.” Indiana traded for Sumner, 23, on draft night in 2017.
  • Cavaliers center Tristan Thompson will miss approximately two weeks of action with left foot soreness, the team announced. The soreness is believed to be from a foot sprain suffered on December 10, an injury that forced him to miss 10 straight games.
  • Eric Bledsoe is finally where he wants to be in his career with Milwaukee, Malika Andrews of ESPN writes. The Bucks traded for Bledsoe in November of 2017, giving him the chance to start and help lead a team in the Eastern Conference. “It’s slow,” Bledsoe said of Milwaukee. “There ain’t much to do. It feels just like home. I like it because I don’t want life to pass me by. In big cities, things go by too fast.”

Central Notes: Burks, Hood, Bullock, Cavs, LaVine

Guards Alec Burks and Rodney Hood are the players most likely to be moved by the Cavaliers before the trade deadline, according to Joe Vardon of The Athletic. Burks was acquired from Utah last month because of his movable $11.5MM expiring contract. He can provide scoring off the bench, defense and ball-handling for a playoff contender. Hood is a skilled player on an expiring $3.4MM contract, though he can’t be traded without his approval since he’s playing on a qualifying offer. Kevin Love, Tristan Thompson and Jordan Clarkson are other Cleveland players who could be moved at the right price. GM Koby Altman is seeking draft picks, multi-year contracts of expensive players who could be traded in the future, and young players with potential, Vardon adds.

We have more from around the Central Division:

  • Pistons shooting guard Reggie Bullock and backup point guard Ish Smith are garnering trade interest, Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press reports. Detroit would like to re-sign both players, who are on expiring contracts, Ellis continues. Bullock is making $2.5MM this season and Smith is pulling in $6MM. An offer of a first-round pick could entice Detroit to move Bullock, Ellis adds.
  • The steady diet of losses is weighing on the Cavaliers, Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer writes. The injury-riddled Cavs went 1-5 on their just concluded road trip. The Cavaliers don’t want to think that the rest of the season will be a slog to the finish line. “I don’t accept that,” Clarkson said. “I’m trying to compete in games. It’s tough. But we don’t even have a team. You’re playing Channing (Frye) right now and he wasn’t even getting no minutes this year. All these guys dealing with injuries and stuff like that. Sometimes coming into the game a little overmatched. But I’m not set on this is how we are.”
  • Bulls guard Zach LaVine took a veiled shot at coach Jim Boylen after the team’s loss to Miami over the weekend, Michael Walton of NBC Sports Chicago reports. LaVine expressed his frustration that the team is playing worse despite getting some key pieces back in the lineup in recent weeks. “Something is obviously wrong,” he said. “We weren’t losing by double digits earlier in the season.” Many of the team’s issues can be attributed to Boylen’s unimaginative offensive scheme, Walton adds.

Rival Teams Interested In Cavs’ Tristan Thompson?

The Cavaliers are in year one of a rebuild and Tristan Thompson is among the veterans who could be dealt. The team has taken a few calls on the big man, according to Sam Amico of AmicoHoops, though the scribe cautions that the franchise is in no hurry to deal him away.

Thompson has become a leader for the Cavs, aiding Cleveland’s younger players and showcasing high energy even as the team’s losses pile up. It’s clear that Thompson has a different mindset than he did last season where he appeared distracted. It’s possible rival teams are seeing the value of a productive player who is shooting 52.9% from the field and making a positive impact in the locker room.

Kevin Love is the only Cavalier this season earning a higher salary than Thompson’s, which comes in at approximately $17.5MM. The former No. 4 overall pick will make $18,5MM next season during the last year of his current deal.

Thompson has spent his entire eight-year career in Cleveland. He’s averaging a career-high 11.2 rebounds per game this season and his 19.2 player efficiency rating is by far the best of his career.

Cavs Notes: Thompson, Osman, Dellavedova, Payne

Cavaliers center Tristan Thompson called out the team after suffering a 28-point blowout loss to Houston on Friday, detailing how they failed to execute a defensive game plan centered around James Harden during the contest.

The game plan, Thompson said, was to keep it 2-on-2 on the ball and force Harden and Clint Capela to score. It was designed to make sure other players weren’t effective behind Harden as a passer, which is when the Rockets are at their best.

“Obviously have to give Harden a lot of credit for his scoring ability, but we can live with him scoring all the points as long as other guys are not contributing,” Thompson said, according to Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. “We didn’t do that tonight. Didn’t do that at all.”

Instead, the Cavs trailed by as many as 44 points and lost their 12th game in a row. Cleveland’s record now sits at 8-35 on the season, with the patience of Thompson reaching a boiling point after the loss.

“How many games has it been? At this point, we’ve taught everything we can teach,” Thompson said. “Now it’s up to the players to come out there and just do their job. Do your job. Simple. Our players didn’t do their job.”

There’s more out of Cleveland today:

  • Cedi Osman quickly earned the respect of LeBron James last season, Fedor notes in a separate story for Cleveland.com. Osman accidentally injured James during one of his first scrimmages, but James appreciated his effort level and work ethic on the team. “For me, every practice with him, dinner, lunch, being together was special. It was my favorite,” Osman said of James. “I will say I was really proud when he was talking about me to the media. What he was saying about me, all that good stuff, that was really special to me.” Osman and James have remained in touch throughout the 2018/19 season despite mostly being thousands of miles apart, checking in on each other over text.
  • Matthew Dellavedova is focused on a new role in his second stint with the Cavs, Joe Gabriele of Cavs.com writes. Dellavedova joined Cleveland, a much younger team, via trade last month, mentoring Collin Sexton and others this season. “I’m just trying to talk with him about what I’m seeing out there, what he’s seeing out there – and just talk through the game,” Dellavedova said of Sexton. “We’ve watched quite a bit of game-tape together. But he works extremely hard on the court and in the weight room. So, as long as he keeps doing that, he’s going to have a really good chance.”
  • Cameron Payne is fighting to prove himself during his 10-day contract, Joe Vardon of The Athletic writes. Payne, remembered by some fans as Russell Westbrook‘s dance partner during pre-game rituals in Oklahoma City, has averaged 11.7 points in three games with the Cavs. “It’s crazy that that’s what people do remember me for,” Payne said. “Like I really haven’t, I wouldn’t necessarily say I’ve had the opportunity, but I started out playing behind Russ and D.J. Augustin, now he’s starting with the Magic. Then I got hurt. Then I’ve been just out. I came back and I’d be able to play and just get sprinkled in, and I never really got back to my full potential.”