Tristan Thompson

Tristan Thompson Out 2-4 Weeks With Sprained Foot

12:04pm: The Cavaliers confirmed Thompson’s status in a tweet.

11:19am: Cavaliers center Tristan Thompson has a sprained left foot that will keep him sidelined for two to four weeks, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Thompson suffered the injury in last night’s loss to the Bucks, leaving the game midway through the third quarter. He told Joe Noga of Cleveland.com that it happened when he landed on Malcolm Brogdon‘s foot while chasing a rebound.

“I just fell forward on it, it’ll be all right,” Thompson said after the game. “It happens when you’re rebounding and the little guys are down there. It’s part of the game. I’m just glad I was able to walk off on my own two feet.”

Thompson had an MRI this morning that showed no fractures in the foot, according to Joe Vardon of The Athletic (Twitter link). However, there is enough swelling to keep Thompson out of action.

It’s the latest bad break for the 6-21 Cavaliers, who were already short-handed heading into Monday. Thompson has been one of the few bright spots this season in Cleveland, averaging career highs in points (12.0) and rebounds (11.6) through 27 games.

Central Notes: Pistons, Boylen, Evans, Cavs

Don’t expect the Pistons to move either Andre Drummond or Reggie Jackson anytime soon, Rod Beard of The Detroit News writes in a mailbag.

As Beard explains, Detroit views Drummond as a long-term core piece rather than a trade chip. And while Jackson may not be quite on that same level, he’s probably a more valuable asset to the Pistons than he would be to another team, according to Beard, who expects Detroit to “ride through Jackson’s contract.” Drummond and Jackson can both become free agents as early as 2020, though Drummond has a $28.75MM player option for 2020/21.

Here’s more from around the Central:

  • Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic takes an interesting, detailed look at how Jim Boylen has dove head-first into his new job as the Bulls‘ head coach this week, meeting individually with all his players after taking the reins from Fred Hoiberg.
  • As his first season with the Pacers progresses, Tyreke Evans continues to adjust to a new role and new expectations, as Mark Montieth of Pacers.com writes. Evans, who inked a one-year deal to play in Indiana, has been moved to the starting lineup during Victor Oladipo‘s absence but is still struggling to produce consistently.
  • Cavaliers big man Tristan Thompson has been find $15K by the NBA for making an inappropriate gesture toward a fan earlier this week, the league announced today in a press release. Thompson flipped off some Brooklyn hecklers in the wake of the Cavs’ win over the Nets on Monday.
  • Speaking of that Cavaliers win over Brooklyn, head coach Larry Drew – who removed rookie Collin Sexton from the lineup down the stretch in that game – explained later that he doesn’t believe sitting Sexton in situations like that will stunt the youngster’s development. “You can learn just as much sitting over there watching, so you can kind of get a feel and see what other guys are doing,” Drew said, per Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. “But it’s a long season and we’re going to be in a lot of different situations where he’s going to be allowed to experience some of this stuff.”

Cavaliers Notes: Sexton, Nwaba, Thompson, Smith

Three weeks ago, there were grumblings from the Cavaliers’ locker room that rookie point guard Collin Sexton wasn’t ready for the NBA. Sexton has changed a lot of minds since then, punctuated by his 29-point performance in last night’s win over the Rockets, writes Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com.

Coach Larry Drew ordered the Cavs’ veterans to stop making public statements about Sexton, who moved into the starting lineup when George Hill was sidelined by a shoulder injury. That gave Sexton a chance to gain the trust of his teammates and build up his confidence.

“He’s finding a really good rhythm,” Tristan Thompson said. “I think myself and the other veterans are finding ways to make it easier for him. In terms of sets we want to run, find a package of offensive sets that he likes, that he’s comfortable with and he can read and make plays off.”

Sexton is likely to keep the starting role when Hill returns to action, which should happen soon, Fedor adds.

There’s more news out of Cleveland:

  • Sexton’s numbers through his first 18 games are very similar to what Kyrie Irving did during his rookie season, notes Joe Vardon of The Athletic. Former coach Tyronn Lue limited Sexton’s playing time early in the year because he didn’t want to invite comparisons with Irving. However, in his eight starts since Hill’s injury, Sexton is posting a 19.6/3.4/2.6 line while shooting .508 from the field and 10 of 18 from 3-point range.
  • The Cavaliers’ improved play this week coincides with Drew’s decision to move David Nwaba into the starting lineup, Vardon adds in the same story. Nwaba has been matching up with elite offensive players — guarding LeBron James, Ben Simmons and James Harden this week — and easing the defensive burden on Sexton.
  • Thompson has changed from a liability to an important asset over the past year, states Sam Amico of AmicoHoops. The veteran center was injured and seemed uninterested for much of last season, Amico contends, but he put up a pair of double-doubles over the weekend against the Sixers and Rockets. He has one more season left on his contract at more than $18.5MM.
  • The Cavs have also been better since parting ways with J.R. Smith, Amico adds, suggesting that having an unhappy veteran in the locker room was weighing down the team.

Central Notes: Evans, Thompson, Bulls

Still in the early stages of his first season with the Pacers, Tyreke Evans continues to find his groove and fit on the team. Evans posted his best game of the season in Indiana’s win on Friday, and has said that he is continuing to adjust to the offense and will look to be more assertive moving forward.

Signed this past offseason on a one-year deal, Evans serves as the Pacers’ sixth man, providing capable shooting and ball-handling in bench units. So far this season, Evans is averaging 11.2 points, 2.7 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game, while knocking down 40 percent of his 3-pointers and playing 20.3 minutes per game.

The Pacers will continue to need Evans to step up alongside Victor Oladipo as they look to navigate the top of the Eastern Conference and cement themselves as true playoff contenders.

There’s more from the Central division:

  • With the Cavaliers suffering a slow start due to injuries and inconsistent play from many key rotational players, Jason Lloyd of The Athletic writes that amidst a career year, Tristan Thompson has also taken on a new role as a leader of the team, which is something the Cavaliers didn’t have when LeBron James left in 2010.
  • As the Bulls continue to struggle with injuries and inconsistent play, Mark Strotman of NBC Sports Chicago points out that the team is exactly where it should be given the injuries to some of its best players and the club’s primary focus on rebuilding and player development.
  • A recent Central Rumors post highlights Robin Lopez receiving more playing time to boost his trade value and provides updates on the injuries to Luke Kennard and John Henson.

Deveney’s Latest: Vucevic, Favors, Cavs, Valanciunas

With Mohamed Bamba‘s NBA career off to a promising start and Nikola Vucevic on an expiring contract, the prevailing wisdom suggests that Vucevic’s days with the Magic may be numbered, writes Sean Deveney of The Sporting News. However, multiple league sources tell Deveney that Orlando isn’t looking to move the veteran center at this point.

While the Magic have explored the trade market for Vucevic in past years, they’ve yet to entertain offers this season and have been happy with how he has looked so far, per Deveney. The club also doesn’t want to put too much pressure on Bamba before he’s ready. Of course, if Orlando falls out of playoff contention by February and is offered a first-round pick for Vucevic, the team’s stance could change. For now though, he’s not being shopped.

Deveney spoke to league executives about a few more potential trade candidates, with a focus on big men, so let’s round up the highlights…

  • Although Derrick Favors signed a new two-year deal with the Jazz during the summer, his $16.9MM salary for 2019/20 is non-guaranteed, and few people around the NBA expect him to still be in Utah at that point, according to Deveney. Favors could be a trade candidate at this season’s deadline if the Jazz are able to move him a more versatile forward.
  • The Cavaliers are unlikely to go into fire-sale mode anytime soon, one executive tells Deveney. “Don’t hold your breath,” the exec said. “If they decide to blow it all up, I don’t expect that to decision to be made until we get close to the deadline. They still think they can win.” If the Cavs do start moving veteran pieces, Tristan Thompson is one player to watch, says Deveney.
  • Jonas Valanciunas is no longer an every-night starter for the Raptors, but he’s been very productive in a reduced role for the team and there are no plans to move him, sources tell Deveney.
  • Robin Lopez (Bulls) and Dewayne Dedmon (Hawks) are unlikely to net first-round picks on the trade market, but they could be decent rental options for teams seeking depth up front, Deveney writes.

Cavs Remain Committed To Winning Despite Rotation Changes

The Cavaliers remain committed to winning this season rather than tearing down the team and rebuilding, Joe Vardon of the Athletic reports. The front office doesn’t view Sunday’s blowout loss to the Hawks as a reflection of what to expect going forward with this squad.

Before the 22-point loss, the team owned a record of 0-2 and Kyle Korver, J.R. Smith, and Channing Frye, the team’s three oldest players, were told that they were not going to be in the rotation for the foreseeable future. Coach Tyronn Lue and GM Koby Altman sat with the trio on Saturday—a day before the loss—and explained that Cleveland was going to give its young players the opportunity to showcase their skills. Lue’s rotation was teetering between 11 and 12 players and it needed to be shortened. Frye was already not in the rotation, but Korver and Smith were both set to receive a demotion.

Today, after the 22-point loss, Lue began practice with both Korver and Smith among the team’s top 10 players. Both vets are expected to play on Wednesday against the Nets. Vardon notes that it’s possible Lue made this decision against the front office’s wishes.

The front office is committed to the team’s youth but also pledged to Kevin Love that the organization would not tank, something Love wanted to know before he signed his four-year extension. Love understands the need to develop players for the future, but sees a reason for playing the vets now.

“In our commitment to helping guys grow, the guys who know how to win have to play,” Love told Vardon, in supporting Lue’s latest decision. “I think having Kyle and Channing and J.R., those guys know how to win in this league, and having them will help bring the others along. So they need to play.”

Love feels that younger players may pick up bad habits as a result of not playing alongside veterans. He spoke about how he did just that playing on a young team in Minnesota.

“I had to step into playing so many minutes every single night, and my bad habits had accumulated. I got here and I had to shake a lot of those, learn what it is to sacrifice,” Love said. “In practice time and teaching points and film, all that stuff that goes on away from the games, that’s where I think those guys are gonna grow.”

Lue sees Cleveland’s defensive woes as a communication issue and he said the team’s players either have to “talk or they’ve got to come and sit down [on the bench],” as Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com relays.

“I think the biggest thing is communication,” Lue said. “When you’re switching you have to call the switches out so the man can’t get behind and get dunks and layups and easy shots.”

This is a situation that could fluctuate over the next several weeks. The team can only dress 13 players and on Sunday, David Nwaba was in street clothes while the team’s three oldest players sat on the bench in uniform. A front office executive tells Vardon that Nwaba is unlikely to be out of uniform going forward, so it’s unclear who will be in street clothes when the team plays on Wednesday.

Korver is considered a strong candidate to be moved at some point during the season, though the team has not explored trade opportunities for him since training camp. Vardon adds that if a market developed for Tristan Thompson, the Cavs would likely listen to offers. Cleveland’s payroll sits at approximately $115.7MM, roughly $14MM over the salary cap.

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.