When the NBA trade deadline nears and a team isn't close to contending for a playoff spot, those with expiring contracts often command a bit more of the spotlight.
Instead of watching contributors leave in free agency with no return, front offices may prefer to trade a valuable player to a contending team.
Although it's still early in the 2019-20 season, the Cleveland Cavaliers appear likely to fit that mold. They're technically just two games out of the Eastern Conference playoff race, but a 1-9 record in their last 10 contests isn't an encouraging trend.
So, in the not-too-distant future, Cleveland may start receiving a bit more interest in some of its five expiring contracts.
And, specifically, Tristan Thompson.
The 28-year-old is averaging career-high marks of 14.1 points, 10.4 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 1.2 blocks and 0.8 steals. His value has never been higher, and the Cavs might feel compelled to trade the center if the right offer presents itself.
As Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com details, however, discussions about Thompson's future aren't so simple:
"Thompson is the piece the Cavs would most want to retain beyond this season. The organization loves him. Sources say they would be interested in making him part of this growing core."
But there is a complication:
"According to sources, there haven't been any real conversations between Cleveland's front office and Thompson's camp about a contract extension. ... The current belief is Thompson's camp wouldn't want to commit [to an extension] right now."
The Cavaliers have the resources to re-sign him anyway, and few NBA teams will actually have cap space next summer. Neither side needs to rush into extension talks. Still, allowing the player to hit the open market invites a bit of risk.
On the other hand, Thompson isn't guaranteed to continue performing at this level. Players often thrive in the final season of their contract, and stockpiling low-cost draft picks may be tempting for an organization in the early stages of a rebuild.
Regardless, don't expect a major development until sometime in January or even February. If the Cavs are truly out of the playoff hunt, they can more carefully consider Thompson's future.
Until then, though, he's a veteran leader having a career-best season on a fringe postseason threat.
LaMarcus Aldridge Injury Update
As if the San Antonio Spurs need any help losing—say that out loud and try not to scoff at yourself—the struggling squad didn't have LaMarcus Aldridge for Sunday's loss to the Detroit Pistons.
Marc Stein of the New York Times reported the 34-year-old would be unavailable while dealing with a thigh injury. Fortunately for San Antonio, the power forward's absence is expected to be a short one:
Prior to Sunday, Aldridge had appeared in every game this season. He's averaging 18.9 points while shooting a solid 51.7 percent overall, adding 6.7 rebounds and 2.5 assists.
And in a 132-98 loss, the Spurs certainly missed his production.
Without him available, San Antonio turned to Drew Eubanks—who'd logged three NBA minutes this year—for a significant role. He provided nine points and eight rebounds and a game-worst minus-27 rating while Pistons power forward Christian Wood racked up 28 points and 10 rebounds off the bench.
The Spurs return to the court Wednesday against the Houston Rockets, and they'll be hoping Aldridge will be ready.
Otherwise, it might get ugly again.
Follow Bleacher Report writer David Kenyon on Twitter @Kenyon19_BR.