He’s not just an ‘in case of emergency, break glass’ option. As the veteran, Tristan Thompson’s impact will be important behind the scenes, but after Jarrett Allen and Evan Mobley, the Cavaliers don’t have many reliable options at power forward and center, so TT will likely earn minutes. And those minutes will be as precious as cartridges during a revolution because he has the motivation of staying in the league instead of being outside of it racing through his veins.
He does have 22,084 minutes on his résumé, but that doesn’t make him a fossil. Thompson’s rebounding prowess is a tool any squad can use, and he can disrupt ball handlers with a switch out to the perimeter. His ability to cover a lot of ground defensively could allow for hiding the backcourt on some weaker offensive players or place them in the corner.
Thompson is not the type of enforcer that Maurice Lucas was, nor do the Cavaliers need him to be. But when he’s on the court, a dirty player might think twice before poking out an elbow on an illegal screen or sticking a foot in the landing space of the main guys.
I’m old enough to remember Thompson shoving a ball in Draymond Green’s face, standing in the pocket ready to rumble, just because things got chippy at the end of a Finals game. Green has retaliated with a whole lot more for less. Ask Jordan Poole. There was also that time when he was a Chicago Bull, Milwaukee’s Serge Ibaka tried to play football on the court, but he wouldn’t back down.