Free agent season has already been exciting and expensive for the Cavs, with the team reaching agreements with Kevin Love and Iman Shumpert. They’ve also picked up the team option on Timofey Mozgov. Mike Miller picked up his player option for next year. LeBron James signing on for at least next year is a foregone conclusion. The player that many fans are waiting to see locked up long term, however, is Tristan Thompson. After turning down a big money extension last offseason, Thompson outplayed that offer and is expecting even bigger money this time around. As of right now, the Cavs and Thompson’s camp seem to be disconnected on what they feel he deserves, but all signs are pointing to him signing an extension soon.
Thompson is incredibly important to the long term success of the Cavs. As it stands right now, the four man frontcourt rotation of Thompson, Love, Mozgov and Anderson Varejao provide depth, athleticism, scoring and rim protection. Of the four, Varejao is the only one in his 30s. There isn’t much more to ask for when it comes to the options that any frontcourt can give a team. Thompson, however, is currently the only one of these players not rehabbing from surgery. Thompson has proven to be one of the most durable players in the league, and the Cavs have needed his consistency. There is no reason for Cavs fans to not believe that the other three will not come back healthy, but Thompson is the one who has proven himself to be the most indestructible.
Thompson is a player who, despite not needing the ball on offense, manages to make his teammates better. He can switch on screens and guard smaller players, he is big enough to not need help on most post players, and he improved as a rim protector throughout the season. His versatility on defense is similar to how Draymond Green affects the defensive end for the Golden State Warriors. Incidentally, Thompson is seeking a contract similar to the 5-years and $85 million that Green just committed to.
Thompson is also an underrated pick-and-roll player. The Cavs were too predictable in this area once Kyrie Irving went down in the Finals, because Matthew Dellavedova is not the scoring option that Irving is. With the Warriors able to play Delly for the pass, the pick-and-roll with Thompson was ineffective. Being drafted #1 and #4 in the same draft class by the Cavs, Irving and Thompson have four years of pick-and-roll chemistry to build on.
Even through the Cavs bad years since LeBron’s departure, Thompson was playing hard. He developed over time to be one, if not the best offensive rebounders in the NBA. His effort on the boards and on the defensive end took the spotlight in the Cavs’ playoff run, and he should be rewarded for that with a long term contract. The team and Thompson should make an agreement on those terms soon.