Since the Cavaliers traded for Andre Drummond, rumors have been swirling around veteran center Tristan Thompson and his future with Cleveland. The Cavaliers have expressed their desire to re-sign Thompson this offseason, but with Drummond officially replacing him in the starting lineup, it wouldn’t be surprising if he decides to entertain offers from other teams in the 2020 free agency. One of the teams that could try to steal Thompson from Cleveland is the Los Angeles Clippers.
With the team currently buried deep in the luxury tax hell, the Clippers couldn’t just sign Thompson as an unrestricted free agent. According to Greg Swartz of Bleacher Report, the Clippers could acquire the veteran big man via a sign-and-trade deal that would send Ivica Zubac to the Cavaliers.
“With Montrezl Harrell entering free agency and Zubac still a few years away from hitting his prime, the Clippers could use a veteran center who can defend and clean the glass. Enter Thompson, who’s coming off a career year by averaging 12.0 points, 10.1 rebounds and 0.9 blocks in his 30.2 minutes per game. The 6’9″, 254-pound center is athletic enough to defend on the perimeter and still strong enough to bother opposing big men in the paint.”
Trading for Thompson would make a lot of sense for the Clippers. He would give them a starting-caliber center who has plenty of championship experience. With the years he spent with LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Love in Cleveland, Thompson won’t have a hard time building chemistry with Kawhi Leonard and Paul George in Los Angeles.
Unlike Montrezl Harrell, Thompson won’t mind seeing the Clippers giving special treatment to their two superstars. Though he would prefer being traded to the other Los Angeles team, he would definitely be thrilled to leave the Cavaliers for the Clippers. Instead of wasting his prime years serving as a backup and mentoring young players on a rebuilding team, joining the Clippers would enable him to reclaim the starting role and have a realistic chance of winning his second NBA championship next year.
Meanwhile, swapping Thompson for Zubac would also be beneficial for the Cavaliers. Instead of using a huge chunk of their salary cap space to bring him back, the potential deal would allow them to replace him with a cheaper and younger center that fits the timeline of Collin Sexton, Darius Garland, and Cedi Osman.
Zubac may not be as good as Thompson on the defensive end of the floor right now, but Swartz considers him a great rebounder with rim-protecting potential.