Cleveland Cavaliers players addressed the media on Friday in the aftermath of John Beilein’s verbal mishap, in which he referred to his players as “thugs,” though he insisted he meant to say “slugs.”
But one player who repeatedly sidestepped Beilein questions was veteran big man Tristan Thompson. Thompson gave a series of cryptic answers when asked about the situation (via Dan Feldman of Pro Basketball Talk):
DETROIT – Six Cavaliers players addressed John Beilein’s thugs-slugs jumble yesterday. Five offered clear support of their coach for this volatile situation.
The exception: Tristan Thompson.
“At the end of the day, he’s our head coach,” Thompson said after Cleveland’s win over the Pistons last night. “We’re the players, and have to go out there and play and do our job at the end of the day. So, that’s all that matters.”
Thompson had been a vocal leader and steady locker room presence during a season in which the Cavs have already experienced their fair share of internal turmoil. He was outwardly supportive of Beilein–in his first season with Cleveland after a long tenure at the University of Michigan–back in December. Things appear to have grown more tenuous in light of recent events.
The 28-year-old still found a way to have one of the best games of his career. Even as the Cavaliers faced plenty of questions from the outside world, Thompson scored a career-high 35 points. He also grabbed 14 rebounds and posted three blocks during Friday’s win over the Detroit Pistons.
Thompson will be a free agent after this season. Although early indications suggested the Cavs were looking to extend him, they might try to trade Thompson if the situation with Beilein becomes more untenable.
Then again, Kevin Love remains in Cleveland after numerous outbursts, so who knows.