• The Celtics could look to trade Tristan Thompson before the deadline
  • Thompson’s salary is of use as Boston looks to improve roster
  • Which teams could have interest in former Cavalier?

With the NBA trade deadline coming up in a few weeks, teams are looking to round out their roster in order to make a stretch run. The Celtics are firmly in the mix in the Eastern Conference.

A blockbuster trade from the Celtics doesn’t seem likely, but they can make a smaller move or two to help round out their roster. In a league that has seen the value of centers diminish over time, perhaps Boston might move one player out of their trio at that position. Tristan Thompson is only in his first season with the team, but could be the prime trade candidate.

Thompson, Daniel Theis and Robert Williams all bring different skills to the table. Thompson is the strongest rebounder and lateral defensive presence. Williams is the most proficient at protecting the rim. Theis does a little bit of everything, and can space the floor with his shooting ability. It’s unlikely all 3 have an impact in the same playoff series though, so the Celtics might want a little bit more variety on their team.

Trading Thompson (who is due just over $9 million this season and next) could allow the Celtics to unleash Williams during the postseason. Brad Stevens recently said that Williams’ minutes are purposely being reduced to keep him fresh down the road. Increased minutes for the young center would mean a decrease in playing time for Thompson and/or Theis.

Which trade packages involving Thompson could get the Celtics excited enough to part ways with him before the deadline?

       

Suns swap with Saric

This could be an excellent swap for both teams. The Suns have had a better than expected season in the West. As good as they’ve been, most of the players on Phoenix’s roster has never played in the playoffs. Any infusion of leadership and toughness could pay dividends for them in May and June.

Thompson has significant experience in the postseason playing for the Cavaliers. Deandre Ayton and the rest of the big guys in Phoenix have not appeared in the playoffs.

Additionally, the Suns have a bunch of wing players who can score, but need to get tougher inside. Dario Saric is a versatile offensive player, but does not bring that defensive element in the paint. Boston could also utilize Saric in interesting ways as a compliment to their other frontcourt players.

Talk to Denver about Millsap

The days of Paul Millsap being viewed as an elite jack of all trades type player are squarely behind him.

In shorter bursts, with load management to help out, he can still contribute in a few areas when called upon. He could be more of a fill in the blanks type of player in Boston, who would be versatile enough to make shots from the perimeter, and take a charge or two.

From the Nuggets’ point of view, bringing Thompson in the fold would allow them to sure up their defense down low. At this point, JaMychal Green is not that much of an inferior option to Millsap, and Michael Porter’s continued development can allow the Nuggets to play him at the four against small ball lineups. Thompson probably won’t be asked to play as many minutes as he would on the Suns for example, but would give Denver an added dimension they don’t currently have.

Replace Aldridge in San Antonio

With the recent news that LaMarcus Aldridge and the San Antonio Spurs have decided to part ways, another sensible landing spot for Thompson has emerged.

Unless the Celtics are willing to do a blockbuster deal with San Antonio for Aldridge, it’s unlikely that the two are a good pair for that type of trade. Aldridge makes $24 million this season, while Thompson’s salary is around $9 million.

Even though the Spurs will be losing Aldridge, it’s not in their nature to wave the white flag on the season.

They’ll continue to play hard and try to win, and bringing a guy like Thompson in to help fill the void might be attractive to them in a smaller transaction. They could part with the combo of Lonnie Walker and Trey Lyles to make the salaries match. Walker is starting to get his footing in the NBA but does not profile as a future star. Lyles has been a serviceable forward for a few seasons and is viable as a depth piece.

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