The Toronto Raptors are on the verge of falling completely out of the playoff picture in the Eastern Conference, leaving it up to Masai Ujiri to improve this team before they completely collapse. Given the need for a big man, Boston Celtics center Tristan Thompson, who spent nearly a decade with the Cleveland Cavaliers, could be a target to watch.
Thompson is averaging 7.9 points and 8.3 rebounds per game, which far exceeds what Aron Baynes has been putting up in 2020-21. While he remains a quality inside presence, the declining scoring and emergence of younger big men like Robert Williams could entice Boston to trade him away.
Thompson was born in Toronto and raised in Brampton, and the native Canadian could be exactly what the Raptors need on the court if he decided to leave the States. Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports is hinting that the idea isn’t as farfetched as it sounds.
Haynes is reporting that the Raptors are interested in trading for Thompson, who could potentially man the center spot for the next two seasons given the way his contract is structured.
How could Tristan Thompson help the Toronto Raptors?
Thompson might have seen his scoring decline, but the 30-year-old averaged a double-double in each of his last two seasons in Cleveland, so there is a chance that his tailing production is the result of having to share the floor with Jayson Tatum, Kemba Walker, and Jaylen Brown. Toronto has plenty of offensive firepower, but they don’t dominate the ball as much.
Thompson might not be the greatest defender in the world, but he can hold his own while providing more on the offensive end than Baynes. Adding him would end Nick Nurse putting Pascal Siakam at the center position.
Thompson signed a two-year, $19 million deal with Boston, though the second season is a part of a player option. He could opt-in if he goes to Toronto, as the potential to both start and contribute to a playoff team in his home country might genuinely have some appeal.
Given his age and contract situation, Thompson is not going to cost a ton in terms of picks and/or draft capital. A somewhat cost-effective way to upgrade over Baynes and solidify the interior for the next two seasons, Thompson could experience a bit of a resurgence if he trades in Beantown for his hometown.