After missing out on Paul Millsap earlier on Saturday, the Celtics pivoted to another big man target with their mid-level exception, landing long-time Cavs center Tristan Thompson with their full mid-level exception, according to a league source. Thompson will earn $19 million over two years as part of the deal which was first reported by Joe Vardon of the Athletic.
Probably the best true big man defender available. He’s a walking double-double and is still in his prime at age 28 while languishing in obscurity for a bad Cavs team over the past couple of seasons. The Cavs say they want to bring him back (they have Bird Rights) but he’s going to command at least mid-level money if he leaves town. Maybe the appeal of a starting job on a contender would give the C’s a chance at him but the guess here is the C’s would get outbid by a team throwing more money or opportunity at him if he leaves Cleveland.
Luckily for the C's, a crowded free-agent big market and enhanced opportunity in Boston with a starting job and minutes available following the departure of Gordon Hayward was enough for Thompson to bite. The 6-foot-9 center averaged 12 points and 10.1 rebounds per game last season for a bad Cavs team while averaging 30.2 minutes per game. He just started to take some 3s last year (0.4 attempts per game) and knocked down 39 percent of them so it’s a safe bet that attempt number will be going up significantly next season.
The Celtics needed a veteran big after dumping Kanter and Thompson is an option that rounds out their center rotation quite