NBA Rumors: Latest Buzz on Cavs’ Tristan Thompson, Kevin Knox’s Knicks Future

Cleveland Cavaliers center Tristan Thompson (13) reacts during the second half of the team's NBA basketball game against the Washington Wizards, Friday, Feb. 21, 2020, in Washington. The Cavaliers won 113-108. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

Nick Wass/Associated Press

There are eight NBA teams that know their seasons are over. While the league will try to get the 2019-20 campaign back underway later this summer, only 22 teams are invited to Orlando, Florida, and have hopes of ending this extended season with a championship.

The eight franchises not invited will have to wait for a much-later free agency and draft to arrive before making moves to try to get better for the future. But in the meantime, they’ll have plenty to discuss and think over as they prepare for the draft, free agency and the rest of the upcoming offseason.

Cavs Interested in Bringing Back Thompson?

When the Cleveland Cavaliers traded for Andre Drummond in February, the 26-year-old center moved into their starting lineup alongside power forward Kevin Love. That moved Tristan Thompson, who had been starting, into a bench role.

Drummond is likely to be back with the Cavs for the 2020-21 season, as he has a player option worth $28.75 million that he probably won’t turn down. Meanwhile, Thompson is set to be an unrestricted free agent this offseason. And knowing that Drummond and Love will likely be the starters down low next season, could Thompson head to a different team for an opportunity to start?

According to Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com, the Cavs are interested in bringing Thompson back as they “recognize his value, both on and off the floor.” Thompson has spent his first nine NBA seasons in Cleveland after being selected with the No. 4 overall pick in the 2011 draft.

Thompson has been a solid player for the majority of his career, and he just had one of his best seasons. Over 57 games in 2019-20, he averaged a career-high 12 points per contest, along with 10.1 rebounds per contest.

Whether or not Thompson returns to Cleveland could come down to the financial side of it, which Fedor pointed out. The Cavaliers could go over the salary cap to sign Thompson because they’ll own his Bird rights, but they’d likely be committing “north of $120 million” to sign him, per Fedor, but they still might not be in position to contend in 2020-21.

However, Fedor also noted that Cleveland owner Dan Gilbert “hasn’t been shy about spending if the front office can justify it.” So, perhaps a reunion between Thompson and the Cavaliers could be more probable than it appeared after they acquired Drummond this past season, unless he wants to play for a team that is more likely to compete for the NBA title next year.

Will Knox’s Future Be in New York?

Matt Slocum/Associated Press

In 2018, the New York Knicks used the No. 9 overall pick in the draft on forward Kevin Knox, who was a standout player in his lone season at the University of Kentucky in 2017-18. It was expected that Knox would be a key part of the Knicks’ rebuilding efforts as they constructed a core to lead them back to success.

Knox fared pretty well in his rookie season, averaging 12.8 points and 4.5 rebounds in 75 games, although he shot just 37 percent from the field. However, he took a step back in 2019-20, averaging 6.4 points and 2.8 rebounds in 65 games while shooting 35.9 percent from the field. He didn’t play as many minutes and mostly came off the bench, but it still was a disappointing performance.

New York has new leadership in place, with Leon Rose hired to serve as the team’s president in March. And according to Marc Berman of the New York Post, Rose “is not sold on Knox and desperately wanted to see him” play in the final 16 games of the 2019-20 season. However, the Knicks are one of the eight teams not invited to Orlando to finish the season, so now that won’t happen.

Knox turns 21 in August, so there’s still plenty of time for him to develop into a solid NBA player. That’s why Kentucky assistant coach Kenny Payne, who worked with Knox during his year with the Wildcats, is optimistic a fresh start will help him turn the page.

“There’s no prejudging of who he is. He can go out and feel comfortable and do the things to help the team win,” Payne said, according to Berman. “I think he’s coming back with a new and different fire. With a little adversity, you can attain greatness. And he’s been through it.”

That just might not be in New York. Not only do the Knicks now have Rose at the helm, they could also have a new head coach in 2020-21. Mike Miller served as the interim head coach for their final 44 games (following the firing of David Fizdale), and while it’s possible he could be back, New York may also go in a different direction.

Knox won’t become a restricted free agent until 2022, so if the Knicks want to move on, they would likely need to trade him. And if that’s the case, there will likely be plenty of suitors looking to add a youngster with that much potential.

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