The Cleveland Cavaliers have made their share of moves this offseason, and of those, Max Strus (via sign-and-trade) and Georges Niang being brought in were their two most noteworthy moves. Cleveland re-signed Caris LeVert as well, which was a sensible call, and from there, Cleveland acquired Damian Jones by way of trade and the Cavaliers signed Ty Jerome.
With the Cavaliers’ roster having two open spots still, though, it was a matter of time before Cleveland would make another move, at least via the team-friendly signing variety.
Along those lines, the Cavs fan base got taken down memory lane on Monday, as Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium reported that Cleveland signed former longtime Cav Tristan Thompson. Thompson was with the Wine and Gold for nine seasons, and was a part of Cleveland’s four straight runs to the NBA Finals from 2015-2018.
This Thompson signing via team-friendly deal is one where the Cavaliers should be getting leadership and more of an intangible impact, as opposed to a few of those other moves, such as involving Strus, Niang and LeVert.
Thompson did not play in the 2022-23 regular season at all, and in the 2021-22 campaign, spent time with three teams, in the Sacramento Kings, then Indiana Pacers and then Chicago Bulls. He was initially dealt to Sacramento prior to that season by the Boston Celtics, the squad he signed with before the 2020-21 season.
Thompson had an uneven year with Boston, in which he had 7.6 points and 8.1 rebounds per contest in the regular season, but was a positive in the Celtics’ first round series loss to the Brooklyn Nets.
As was previously mentioned, Thompson did not appear in the NBA in the 2022-23 regular season, and it’s probably unrealistic to expect him to be a consistent contributor next year with the Cavaliers.
Thompson did play a bit with the Los Angeles Lakers and his former Cavs teammate in LeBron James in the playoffs, but in the upcoming season with the Wine and Gold, one shouldn’t have lofty expectations for Thompson.
That said, Thompson still can help Cleveland in spurts in rotational minutes as a backup big. He can still rebound at a high level at both ends of the floor, set outstanding screens for Cleveland’s perimeter threats, and defensively, he’s still active on the interior and is always going to be a meaningful backline communicator.
Thompson is a high IQ player, and he can still clear the glass for the Cavs, and aid the group when it pertains to getting younger guys on the same page and in the right spots on both ends. That’s what is more of the overall takeaway with this signing.
It’s safe to say Thompson is not going to be having nearly the splits he posted in his last season with the Cavs in 2019-20, in which he had a career-high with 12.0 points per contest, to go averaging a near-career-best 10.1 rebounds. Nobody should be, or is, anticipating that type of output from him regularly.
However, Thompson knows what it takes to win in the playoffs, and he can help with mentorship of Evan Mobley, and to some extent, still Jarrett Allen. Thompson was involved in tons of playoff wars during the LeBron Return years, and TT was arguably Cleveland’s top role player in the 2016 championship run.
Thompson is set to turn 33 next March, and won’t have a big role with this up-and-coming Cavaliers team, one wouldn’t think.
But TT can still help the young guys in their development, is a selfless player and teammate, and he made his presence felt in a big way for nine seasons. Thompson is third in Cavs franchise history in total rebounds, sixth in total blocks and seventh in games logged with the club.
Welcome back, Double T!