Is Tristan Thompson Headed to the Celtics?

With the NBA Trade Deadline having come and passed, all eyes turn to the buyout market. While players like Evan Turner, Isaiah Thomas and Dion Waiters warrant some intrigue in Boston, one name stands out above the rest: Tristan Thompson.

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Rumors of Thompson’s buyout with the Cavaliers have been swirling for quite some time leading up to the deadline and after GM Koby Altman made a move to acquire Andre Drummond from the Pistons at the trade deadline, it seems more than likely Cleveland will look to move on from Thompson in the coming days.

ESPN insider Brian Windhorst, who covered the Cavaliers extensively when LeBron James was with the team, had this to say Thursday on The Jump, “the chances of a Tristan Thompson buyout have increased dramatically. That means if you’re a fan of the Boston Celtics, your ears perk way up right now. The Boston Celtics would be major in the market for that guy.”

Thompson’s decision might not be so easy though. The Celtics can only offer the veteran minimum, having used the room exception on Enes Kanter last summer. Thompson will have other suitors, including the Rockets who desperately need a starting center after trading Clint Capela. The Lakers, with former teammate LeBron James, and Clippers, who’ve been looking for a center upgrade from Zubac, will also be in the mix for Thompson. The Clippers also have Thompson’s former coach, Tyrone Lue, in their staff. Both Los Angeles teams have cleared roster spots as they prepare to be major players in the buyout market.

There’s no question the Celtics could use someone like Thompson on their roster. Currently, the Celtics possess somewhat of a center by committee. When they need offense, they play Enes Kanter. When they need defense, they play Robert Williams. When they want a little bit of both, they play Daniel Theis. Unfortunately, Robert Williams has missed 2 months with a mysterious hip injury and the Celtics could use a replacement for him in the rotation.

Even when Williams is 100% healthy, Thompson would be a massive upgrade over the still developing young big. While his shot blocking presence doesn’t compare to that of Williams, his perimeter defense has been praised as some of the best from a center in the league. His rebounding skills are also regarded as elite in NBA circles, as the Celtics well know from facing off against him in the past.

Thompson’s buyout with the Cavaliers isn’t a done deal yet, but someone as plugged in with the Cavaliers as Windhorst suggesting one is coming and naming the Celtics as the team to watch is a great sign. If Ainge can snag Thompson on the buyout market while giving up little to nothing in the process, it would do a lot to quell the doubt of some fans who were upset with the Celtics lack of moves at the trade deadline.

Photo: (Carlos Osorio – AP Photo)

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