fb-pixel Skip to main content

What to know about new Celtics center Tristan Thompson

Tristan Thompson appeared in four straight NBA Finals alongside LeBron James.Nick Wass/Associated Press

The Celtics bolstered their front court rotation in free agency Saturday, signing center Tristan Thompson to a two-year, $19 million deal.

Thompson, 29, spent the first nine years of his career with the Cleveland Cavaliers, and captured an NBA title alongside LeBron James in 2016.

Here are four things to know about him:

He is coming off a career year

Thompson was a bright spot for a 19-46 Cavaliers team last season, averaging a career-high 12 points to go along with 10.1 rebounds per game. It was the second consecutive season Thompson averaged a double-double.

He also added the 3-pointer to his repertoire, making 9 of 23 attempts from behind the arc after going 0 for 8 from deep in his previous eight NBA seasons.


Thompson is known as an elite screen-setter, solid defender, and valuable rebounder and fills a void at center left by Enes Kanter, whom the Celtics traded to the Portland Trail Blazers.

Thompson was an iron man for the Cavaliers

The Cavaliers drafted the 6-foot-9 Thompson, a Brampton, Ontario native, with the fourth overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft, three picks after selecting Kyrie Irving No. 1. After playing 60 games in his rookie season for a rebuilding Cleveland team, Thompson went on to play all 82 games the next four seasons.

Thompson, who played college basketball at Texas, did not miss a game from 2012-2017, setting the Cavaliers franchise record for consecutive games played at 477. He leaves Cleveland ranked seventh in career games played, third in rebounds, eighth in minutes, and sixth in blocked shots.

His former Cavaliers teammate, Larry Nance Jr., said Saturday that Thompson’s jersey should be retired by the organization.

“Going from being a fan to an opponent and then a teammate, Tristan has always been one of the good guys,” Nance told Cleveland.com. “His jersey deserves to hang in the rafters.”


Tristan Thompson has been a stalwart for the Cavaliers since getting drafted in 2011.Rusty Costanza/Associated Press

He has plenty of postseason experience

Thompson played in four consecutive NBA Finals, all against the Golden State Warriors, from 2015 to 2018.

He was an integral part of Cleveland snapping its 52-year championship drought, starting alongside James, Irving, and Kevin Love when the Cavaliers erased a 3-1 deficit and beat the Warriors in 2016.

Thompson started 65 of the Cavaliers’ 78 postseason games during that span, averaging 7.7 points and 8.5 rebounds per game. In the five seasons Thompson played without James, the Cavaliers finished with a losing-record and missed the playoffs.

“Being in my ninth season, never thought in a million years I would have the success I’ve had, so for me it’s just taking it one day at a time and enjoying every bit of it,” Thompson said in May. “Meeting so many great people, being part of a franchise and city that’s been through so many tough times and being able to break the 52-year drought -- that was the most important thing I think in my time here. I wouldn’t change it for the world.”

Thompson is part of the Kardashian circle

Thompson has a daughter, True, with Khloe Kardashian, the sister of Kim Kardashian West. Because of his relationship with Khloe, Thompson appears regularly on the reality TV show “Keeping Up with the Kardashians.”

Kardashian West congratulated Thompson on signing with the Celtics to her 192 million Instagram followers.

“Congrats @realtristan13,” Kardashian West wrote. “Boston here we come!!!!”

More Celtics coverage