A source within the Toronto Raptors organization has told Sportsnet’s Michael Grange that the team’s reported interest in acquiring Tristan Thompson is “news to me,” contradicting earlier reporting that Toronto was “said to have high interest” in trading for the Canadian.
“On the trade front, the Cavs have not taken part in any serious discussions,” Amico wrote. “That is highly likely to change as the trade deadline nears in February. Opposing teams are expected to make serious runs at Tristan Thompson and Jordan Clarkson, both players with expiring contracts. Toronto is said to have a high interest in Thompson, Philadelphia in Clarkson.”
As Amico says, Thompson is set to become an unrestricted free agent in the summer.
The Cavaliers could be looking to move Thompson as they find themselves sitting neat the Eastern Conference’s basement with a 5-15 record and are likely looking to extract value out of the strong season Thompson’s put in so far, averaging career highs in points (13.9) and rebounds (10.6).
Making a trade work with the Raptors could be a little tricky though, as the approximately $18.54 million Thompson is owed this season doesn’t match up well with some of the salaries on Toronto’s payroll right now.
For example, the Raptors have two large expiring contracts in Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka, who make about $25.6 million and $23.3 million, respectively. If either was involved in the package for Thompson, the Raptors would have to absorb another contract from the Cavaliers — or even get a third team involved.
And if the Raptors don’t want to trade either of Gasol or Ibaka, but still want to acquire Thompson from Cleveland, making the salaries work there is even trickier. That would likely mean trying to include someone like Norman Powell or even Fred VanVleet in a deal.
Thompson, a Brampton, Ont., native, was taken with the fourth-overall pick in the 2011 draft by the Cavaliers. He has played his entire NBA career in Cleveland.