The Athletic Senior lead NBA Insider Shams Charania wrote the Cavaliers were finalizing a deal with center Tristan Thompson in a Monday tweet. Cavs reporter Chris Fedor wrote the same a few minutes later.

“#Cavs and Tristan Thompson are finalizing a deal that will bring him back to Cleveland, sources tell @clevelanddotcom,” Fedor wrote. “He will take the open roster spot they needed to fill before opening night.”

The 2011-12 All-Rookie Second Team selection was a part of Cleveland’s memorable runs to the NBA Finals and two of Cleveland’s rebuilding seasons afterward. His signing would bring the Cavs’ roster up to 14 players just one month before Cleveland tips off against the Atlanta Hawks in the NBA preseason. Thompson signed on with the Los Angeles Lakers on the last day of the 2022-23 regular season.

Was the signing of Tristan Thompson a good move for the Cavaliers? How will he contribute to the roster during the 2023-24 season?

Veteran and Championship Experience

Tristan Thompson played for nine years with the Cavaliers after joining guard Kyrie Irving, forwards Justin Harper and Milan Mačvan in Cleveland’s 2011 NBA Draft class. The former Texas center played in a total of 619 games for the Cavs during his NBA career, including in all 82 of the 2012-13 and 2015-16 NBA regular seasons.

Thompson averaged a double-double during the 2016 NBA Finals series that saw the Cavs take down a Golden State Warriors squad that had broken the Chicago Bulls’ regular-season record of 72-10 that year. He played a starring role on the boards in Game 6, grabbing rebounds against center Festus Ezeli on his way to 16 total rebounds.

“Like LeBron and Kyrie said, be a star in your role,” Thompson said in 2016, via Fox Sports. “And for me that’s high energy, use my motor, just play hard. Play hard be relentless on the glass. And that’s what I bring to this team. That’s my job … and I try to do that every night.”

Tristan Thompson’s near-12 years of NBA experience would make him one of the more experienced players on Cleveland’s roster.

Center Damian Jones, who the Cavs traded for cash considerations in July, has seven years of league experience with a handful of NBA rosters. Forward Georges Niang has seven years of his own with the Indiana Pacers, Utah Jazz and Philadelphia 76ers. Guard Donovan Mitchell and Jarrett Allen have six years of NBA experience apiece. Guard Darius Garland, forward Isaac Okoro and forward Evan Mobley have spent four, three and two years in the league.


Tristan Thompson has shown he can be a consistent rebounder throughout his lengthy NBA career.

He averaged just more than 10 rebounds per game, including four offensive rebounds, during the 2018-19 and 2019-20 seasons. His rebounding prowess continued even after he signed with Boston in 2020, a point Chicago Bulls head coach Billy Donovan pointed out in a 2022 article from Writer Sam Smith. Thompson signed with the Bulls in 2022, where he suited up in 23 regular season games and all five of Chicago’s playoff series loss to the Milwaukee Bucks.

“He’s really smart and a bright player and he’s been around for a while,” Donovan said, via Smith. “I don’t know how much he and Vooch would play together, but certainly the size and the physicality and the presence of him in that second unit is gonna really help.

“He has been a really good rim protector, he’s been a really, really good rebounder, he’s been a really good pick-and-roll defender, he’s been a good screener and roller. He does what he does at a really high level.”

If he can find time on the floor for the Cavaliers next season, he could be a welcomed boost for a squad that took 25th place in the league with 41.1 rebounds per game during the regular season and 15th among teams that made the NBA playoffs with 37.2.

Center depth

It could never hurt to bring another big on board for the Cavs’ upcoming 2023-24 campaign.

Allen, Jones, Mobley, Niang and forward Dean Wade make up some of the team’s options at the four and the five. Mobley played in just above 2,700 minutes during the 2022-23 regular season, the ninth-most in the league ahead of Atlanta Hawks guard Dejounte Murray, Bulls forward DeMar DeRozan and Toronto Raptors forward Scottie Barnes, according to

Tristan Thompson has played at the power forward spot in the past. He spent 37% of his total minutes with Cleveland at the four, according to Basketball Reference. But the former Longhorn played in 70% of his total minutes at center during the 2021-22 season.