Should the Los Angeles Lakers sign Tristan Thompson?

Tristan Thompson is a free agent and could join his former teammate on the Los Angeles Lakers.

Tristan Thompson was a key member of the Cleveland Cavaliers’ title-contending teams with LeBron James and now finds himself as a free agent with the possibility of joining the Los Angeles Lakers.

There has not been too big of a connection between Tristan Thompson and the Lakers but LeBron helped add some speculation. James tweeted about having a drink with Thompson and NBA Twitter, being what it is, started to churn.

On paper, it makes sense to draw a correlation. Thompson is a noted teammate of LeBron James, is a free agent with lesser value than he once had and the Lakers could need a center if Dwight Howard and DeMarcus Cousins do not re-join the team.

However, that correlation should be shot down rather soon as Thompson would not be a great fit on the Lakers.

Why the Los Angeles Lakers shouldn’t sign Tristan Thompson:

Tristan Thompson was great for the Cavaliers, he would not add much to the Los Angeles Lakers. Sure, he brings value as a shot-blocker and rebounder but the Lakers already have that dynamic on the roster.

Thompson would not bring anything new that Dwight Howard and JaVale McGee don’t bring to the table. And if Howard, Cousins (and even McGee) leave, the Lakers could get similar value for far cheaper than what Thompson will get.

His value might be lower but he will still get a decent multi-year contract that the Lakers simply cannot afford to hand out with the cap pinch that the team is already in. If he is willing to take a huge pay cut towards the veteran minimum then sure, sign me up, but that is highly unlikely.

A center of Thompson’s style simply is not that valuable in 2020. Yes, Howard and McGee both played a part in winning the NBA Championship but we saw how much the Lakers paid them last season. There really is no reason to go above and beyond that.

Plus, if we look at the advanced numbers, Thompson was not even that good last season anyway.

Thompson posted a -2.15 Player Impact Plus-Minus (PIPM) last season. PIPM is a stat that takes multiple factors into account to determine a player’s value. Anyone in the negative is considered “below average” while -2.3 is valued right at replacement level.

Thompson is right above being a replacement-level player. To compare, Dwight Howard had a 0.68 PIPM and JaVale McGee had a 2.37 PIPM. The Los Angeles Lakers are better off with what they have — Thompson would be a downgrade!

So no, despite his relationship with LeBron James and the easy case to make on paper for Thompson to be a target, do not expect the Los Angeles Lakers to pursue the veteran big man. If they do, it will be out of complete desperation.