Thompson signing could mean this Cavs player won’t be around for long

Tristan Thompson, Cleveland Cavaliers. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
Tristan Thompson, Cleveland Cavaliers. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) /

Earlier this week, the Cleveland Cavaliers signed veteran big Tristan Thompson to a one-year deal of the team-friendly variety. The move involved Cleveland bringing back one of the team’s most beloved role players, and Thompson will be a positive influence for this group, as expressed by Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium, who reported the signing.

Thompson may not be the player he once was six or seven years ago, and did not play in the 2022-23 regular season, so expectations might not be too lofty. Despite that realization, he is a still player who can provide Cleveland with more frontcourt depth, and can still give the Cavaliers a notable boost on the glass and for interior defense.

Thompson should assuredly be a great leadership and off-floor presence as well, and his wealth of playoff experience will be meaningful for Cleveland’s locker room this coming season. Thompson was an integral part of Cleveland’s run to four straight NBA Finals with LeBron James, and was of course on that 2016 title squad.

If Thompson proves to still be a capable rotational asset for the Cavs this season, perhaps even in the early going, that could mean one offseason acquisition is made expendable. That current Cav is Damian Jones, who was brought in via trade from the Utah Jazz in July.

Thompson’s signing could result in Jones not being around for long with the Cavs.

Jones was brought in by Cleveland in July during the early stages of free agency, and he could give the Cavaliers some decent minutes in spurts at backup 5.

Jones can provide the Cavaliers a vertical athlete to use as a roller and his strength as a screener can aid Cleveland’s ball handlers and slashers, such as Darius Garland, Donovan Mitchell and Caris LeVert.

Defensively, Jones could theoretically give Cleveland a better option to have for spurts as an interior presence than Robin Lopez was at times last season.

Jones’ 7-foot-3 wingspan comes in handy when it comes to shot altering, as evidenced by him having a career block rate of 4.1 percent. One would assume his 6-foot-11, 245-pound frame can help Cleveland finish possessions on the glass; his defensive rebounding rate has been a solid 16.5 percent over his seven-year career, also.

However, while he is younger than Thompson and has more vertical pop, Jones has long had issues as it pertains to fouling too often in his minutes, and he’s still not too polished offensively. For his career, Jones has averaged 2.1 fouls in 14.6 minutes per contest, and per-36 minutes, has had 5.2 fouls.

Now, this isn’t to suggest Thompson at this juncture is going to be lighting it up for Cleveland in rotational minutes, but he does have some post game, and is a bit underrated as a passer. Also, Thompson is still a smart team defender, and one can always trust his competence on the glass, at minimum. He’s not going to take unnecessary fouls, either.

So, though Jones nor Thompson are probably going to be every-night contributors, anyway, with Jarrett Allen and still Evan Mobley likely involved a bunch at the 5, Thompson might prove to be the better option for spurts than Jones.

Thompson has bounced around in recent seasons, and didn’t play in the 2022-23 regular season, but Jones is going on his seventh team through what will be eight seasons.

He did win two titles in his first two seasons, on a star-studded Golden State Warriors team, but Jones was not a factor on that team, and has not consistently been able to stick in rotations in his career. So with that in mind, and the recent Thompson signing, he could seemingly be a player who could very well be traded again by Cleveland, at least by the 2024 deadline.

Also, as an aside, if given the opportunities, two-way player Isaiah Mobley could be an intriguing option for Cleveland’s rotation. Mobley is younger than both, was impressive in the G League last season offensively, and has shown flashes of stretch big qualities.

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Overall, however, with Thompson and potentially Isaiah Mobley in the fold, it would seem Jones, who is on an expiring contract anyhow, could be on the move once again fairly soon.