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Thompson and West

If Cavs Get David West, Can Raptors Get Thompson?

All of a sudden, the noise surrounding the stalled negotiations with the Cavs Canadian power forward Tristan Thompson has started to take on new meaning. Thompson wants a max deal this summer and it looked like he was about to get something very close to that from Cleveland a few days ago, but unexpectedly things started to change.

The luxury tax bill the Cavaliers are about to face should give any owner pause, but how can general manager Dan Gilbert say no when it’s really LeBron James pulling all the strings.


Maybe he finds a more enticing string? David West is still a polished proven veteran, even as he approaches 35-years-old, and the unrestricted free agent has made it very clear he wants to win a lot more than he wants another big contract. If he wanted money, he would have picked up his option with the Pacers.

This isn’t going to be an easy get for either the Spurs, Wizards or the Cavaliers, but if West is looking for the surest road to the NBA Finals, the Cavs are in the lead by a landslide. No one realistically sees the Wizards as an immediate threat to LeBron James in the East and in the West, the Spurs will be tested and there is no guarantee they can beat the current NBA Champion Golden State Warriors – with or without West.

If Cleveland can come to a deal with West while leaving Thompson twisting in a wind of his own making, the potential luxury tax savings will be huge. The Cavaliers will be deep into the NBA’s penalty for high spending teams before adding a max contract for Thompson to their bloated payroll, it will likely cost at least $70 million to re-sign Tristan Thompson in salary plus luxury tax next season. Nabbing West on a minimum deal just keeps looking better and better.

What the Cavs appear to be waiting on is the blessing from the team’s real GM LeBron James.

It shouldn’t surprise anyone if Raptors President and General Manager, Basketball Operations Masai Ujiri is not so quietly waiting on the sidelines for West to land in Cleveland. Gilbert knows he only has to pick up the phone and a sign-and-trade with Toronto will quickly become a done deal assuming James allows it to happen. The Cavaliers pick up another cheap piece to their championship puzzle for next season in West, while the Raptors absorb the bulk of Thompson’s salary into their available cap space and throw a young player or two back to make up any shortfall.

A lot of balls remain in the air and the Cavs can get nothing done with a Thompson trade until Gilbert has West on board and the real GM James gives the okay. This year’s NBA free agency continues to amaze with unexpected signings and possibilities. (It must suck at times to be a coach or GM in Cleveland these days?)



Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.