According to Cleveland.com, the New York Knicks apparently tried to complete a trade with the Cavaliers before settling with the Thunder.
The centerpiece of the potential trade with Cleveland would have been power forward Tristan Thompson, a favorite of LeBron. The Cavaliers apparently decided against making that trade, which is how we wound up with Anthony heading to play with Russell Westbrook and Paul George.
The Knicks wanted Thompson, 26, a center who like James is represented by Rich Paul. The Cavs told them no. Thompson is under contract for three more seasons, beginning at $16.4 million this year. Cleveland was willing to do a deal that would’ve cleared some contracts off the books, such as sending Iman Shumpert ($11 million this year) and others.
New York also asked about one of Cleveland’s two first-round choices for 2018, and the Cavs weren’t about to part with either.
The Cavs view the Brooklyn pick they own for 2018 as invaluable for multiple reasons. Trading the Knicks their own first-round pick would prevent them from being able to move the Brooklyn pick later this season.
Obviously an important backstory here is how much LeBron likes Thompson, and that they share the same agent. Thompson remains a somewhat underrated part of the Cavaliers overall success during the regular season.
Thompson played much of the year at center for the Cavaliers last year, apparently making it his permanent position. Cleveland’s roster without Thompson but with both Kevin Love and Carmelo would have been an odd mix, forcing Love to likely be the person to play the 5.
It makes sense that the Knicks would want to Thompson, and it also makes sense that the Cavaliers refused.