The Cleveland Cavaliers are said to be interested in re-signing veteran big man Tristan Thompson as he hits unrestricted free agency this offseason, but will they actually do it? And maybe more importantly, should they do it?
To some, bringing back Thompson may seem like a bad idea, as the Cavs are rebuilding with young talent in the wake of LeBron James’ second departure. Furthermore, Cleveland already has Kevin Love, Andre Drummond and Larry Nance Jr. on its roster.
However, Thompson has been with the team throughout his entire career, and the Cavs value his veteran presence in the locker room. He’s a senior spokesman of sorts, offering guidance to the team’s younger players, including Darius Garland, Collin Sexton and Kevin Porter Jr. Don’t be fooled, though. Thompson isn’t the old guy on the bench barking orders. He can still bang in the paint with the best of them and provide quality minutes on the court.
In this piece, we’ll lay out three reasons why the Cavs should pull the proverbial trigger on a deal that would keep Tristan Thompson in Cleveland.
For the most part, Thompson has been a double-double machine over the course of his career. He made 57 appearances during the 2019-20 regular season, racking up averages of 12.0 points on 51.2 percent shooting to go with 10.1 rebounds and 2.1 assists per outing.
That sort of production doesn’t walk through the door every day, which is likely one of the reasons Cleveland would like to have him back. And though his role has diminished a bit with the arrival of Andre Drummond, Thompson can still provide a solid presence in the paint — even if he has to come off the bench.
Kevin Love knows what Thompson brings to the table:
“He’s just so valuable for this team and this organization,” Love said of Thompson, via SI.com. “I really hope he’s back.”
The Cavs are hoping to take a step forward next season, and replacing Thompson’s production would be tough.
2. Cost effectiveness
Thompson’s hefty contract has always been a heated point of discussion among Cavs fans. Most argue that the big man was simply making too much when compared to other players of his ilk. His current contract was for five years and $82 million, which is pretty steep.
Now, the Cavs may be able to keep Thompson at a more reduced rate given the circumstances. It’s not a one-horse race, though, as several other teams will likely be interested in his services, especially those looking for a capable rebounding presence.
However, it’s also worth noting that the market may be a bit lukewarm this offseason due to the coronavirus pandemic. In fact, it’s not even clear what the salary cap will be for the coming season. For this reason, many teams may be looking to stand pat, and there aren’t many teams with cap space anyway.
3. A Wine and Gold sunset
As previously mentioned, Thompson has spent his entire career in Cleveland. He was drafted fourth overall in 2011, then went on to help the team win its first NBA championship in 2016. At some point, he says he’d like to see his jersey hanging in the rafters at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.
Thompson has warmed up to the idea of re-signing with Cleveland if an offer from a contender doesn’t materialize, per league sources. That, and according to those same sources, Thompson wants to have his jersey retired by the Cavaliers and other than all his franchise accolades, sticking with the team for nearly a decade would help cement his case.
Though the Cavs have struggled in recent seasons, Thompson still values the time he has spent with the team. He has worked hard for the organization, playing in 447 consecutive games before a thumb injury ended his Iron Man streak in 2017. Simply put, he appreciates Cleveland:
“I got drafted here and I won a championship here,” Thompson told SI.com. “I have great memories here. I am a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers and it is my job to punch the clock and come to work every day for the organization. That is how I approach it.”
“There are people who get paid for the business side — (agent) Rich Paul and (Cavs general manager) Koby Altman and others,” Thompson added. “That business stuff is all for them. For me, it’s about just being a player.”
— Canada Basketball (@CanBball) June 22, 2016
Both sides appear to be interested in coming to an agreement, but they’re likely weighing their best options. For now, we’ll have to wait and see if Double-T rides off into a Wine and Gold sunset. We think it would be fitting. But as they say, the NBA is a business.