After a slow draft night in which they only had one second-round pick, the Boston Celtics have jumped into the mix with a trade on Friday. They’ll send veteran big man Tristan Thompson to the Atlanta Hawks in exchange for Kris Dunn, Bruno Fernando and a 2023 second-round pick, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.
Thompson signed with the Celtics last season and was expected to provide the size, defense and toughness around the basket that the team was missing. Save for one great playoff game against the Brooklyn Nets, however, he was largely disappointing and put up averages of 7.6 points and 8.1 rebounds in just 54 games.
Now, he’s off to Atlanta where he figures to serve as a backup for Clint Capela. The Hawks don’t have many true bigs as it is, and Onyeka Okongwu is going to miss the beginning of the season after undergoing shoulder surgery earlier this summer. Thompson is past his prime, but the Hawks need reliable frontcourt depth and he’s still a solid option off the bench.
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As for the Celtics, this deal serves a few purposes. First and foremost, it saves them some money. Thompson was set to make about $10 million next season, while Dunn and Fernando combined will make about $7 million. That’s not super exciting, but clearing out some room under the luxury tax makes sense, especially when Thompson didn’t figure to be a big part of the rotation next season.
Secondly, it helps balance out their roster a little bit. Robert Williams III is coming off a breakout season and has pretty clearly established himself as the starting center when he can stay healthy, and the Celtics also added Al Horford and Moses Brown in the Kemba Walker trade earlier this offseason. Thompson was pretty redundant at that point, and it made sense to move him for a guard.
With Walker gone, Marcus Smart and Payton Pritchard are the only point guards on the roster that saw meaningful minutes last season. Dunn will give them some depth at that spot and should help improve their perimeter defense if he can stay healthy. While he was limited to just four games last season, Dunn was a borderline All-Defensive Team player in 2020 with the Chicago Bulls.