The Cleveland Cavaliers immediately felt the effect of the departure of LeBron James in the 2018-19 NBA season where they missed the Eastern Conference Playoffs for the first time since 2014 and finished as one of the worst teams in the league. Though they currently have no intention of trading Kevin Love and undergo a full-scale rebuild, rumors are circulating that the Cavaliers will be trading some of their veterans who are on the final year of their contracts before the February NBA trade deadline.
As of now, one of the most likely trade candidates in Cleveland is veteran center Tristan Thompson. Thompson may not be giving any indication that he’s no longer happy in Cleveland but at this point in his NBA career, he will definitely prefer to spend his prime playing for a legitimate playoff contender than staying on a rebuilding team like the Cavaliers. In his recent article, Tyler Marling of Fansided‘s King James Gospel suggested potential trade packages that the Cavaliers could acquire for Thompson.
One of the NBA teams who could express interest in trading for Thompson before the 2020 February NBA trade deadline is the Minnesota Timberwolves. In the proposed trade deal by King James Gospel, the Timberwolves will be sending Gorgui Dieng and a 2020 lottery-protected first-round pick to the Cavaliers in exchange for Thompson. The deal works on ESPN‘s NBA Trade Machine.
The potential deal would allow the Timberwolves to unload the two years and $33.4 million left on Gorgui Dieng’s contract while acquiring a proven big man with plenty of championship experience. Tristan Thompson would not make the Timberwolves an instant title contender, but he could help them earn a playoff spot in the deep Western Conference next season.
As Marling noted, the potential deal would not only be beneficial for the Timberwolves, but also for the Cavaliers.
“It’s really a win-win for both teams. For the Cavs, they will have a valuable expiring contract on the books entering the 2020-21 season that they could look to move for another draft pick or young player, or they could simply let it come off of the books in the summer of 2021. While it will be sad to see Thompson go, it might be wise on the Cavs part to move him for an asset that would help accelerate their rebuild, rather that be a young player like Little or more draft capital.”
In exchange for absorbing Gorgui Dieng’s contract, the Cavaliers would be receiving a future first-round pick as compensation from the Timberwolves. Acquiring Dieng would undeniably affect the Cavaliers’ salary cap flexibility in the summer of 2020, but once he enters the final year of his contract in the 2020-21 NBA season, Cleveland could use him as a valuable trade chip to acquire assets that could help them speed up the rebuilding process.