Tristan Thompson is not going to be the on-floor contributor he once was during LeBron James’ second stint with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
At this stage, Thompson is 32 years old, and will turn 33 in March. He didn’t appear in regular season action last year, and played some spot minutes with his old buddy in LeBron and the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2023 Playoffs.
Thompson was a late-offseason signing last month by Cleveland, and his one-year deal is non-guaranteed for next season. There’s others involved that will play their share of minutes at the 5 on the Cavaliers, with Jarrett Allen and Evan Mobley factored in heavily there, and Damian Jones was a big acquired via trade near the early days of free agency in July.
With those things in mind, it’s unrealistic to foresee Thompson having a significant role for Cleveland’s bench game-in and game-out in the 2023-24 campaign. He’ll surely have a leadership role in the locker room, and behind the scenes, should aid in Evan Mobley’s development, but Thompson doesn’t project as an every-game contributor and he might not regularly play a notable chunk of minutes.
That being said, especially with Allen being sidelined for preseason action ahead, and with it being uncertain if he’ll be ready for the season opener, Cleveland has to definitely see what they have in Thompson, and Jones, for that matter. Further evaluation of both Thompson and Jones in training camp and preseason will be meaningful, particularly with that Allen ailment.
Thompson can still feasibly give the Cavaliers solid minutes in his time on the floor, though, and could fairly regularly be involved, if he can mesh with this iteration of Cleveland. His physicality, screening, team defense and rebounding all can help the Cavs still.
Thompson can still make a big difference for the Cavs’ rotation on the glass, to those points, and in turn, he can give this Cleveland squad and the fan base energy this coming season.
Thompson’s comments from Monday, via Evan Dammarell of Right Down Euclid, were also yet another reminder of how Thompson’s always fully embraced the dirty work. That should speak volumes to the Wine and Gold faithful.
Thompson was one of the top role players in Cavaliers history at his best, particularly doing the LeBron Return years, when Cleveland went to four straight NBA Finals and won in comeback fashion in 2016. His relentlessness on the boards was big for Cleveland in that time, and in his other years with the Cavs.
Thompson is third in rebounds in Cavaliers team history, and he made his mark on the glass night-in and night-out over his nine seasons with Cleveland. For his career, Thompson has had 11.3 boards per-36 minutes, and 8.4 rebounds per game.
Needless to say, Double T has long been a terrific glass cleaner, and though he won’t have the role he once had from here for the Cavs, he can still give them quality minutes for his interior efforts and smart defensive play.
Granted, even with the Allen injury, it’s not necessarily the best news to hear the Cavaliers seemingly haven’t been boxing out Thompson in camp all that well. Of course, TT has long been a guy that’s going to provide levity for the group, which was evident in those comments.
However, it’s also reassuring to know that going into this season, Cleveland will have Thompson back, for his veteran presenc. And for a team that had issues with defensive rebounding last season, his glass cleaning speciality could make a real impact in his minutes for the Cavs.
More than anything, Thompson should be a great resource for the likes of Mobley to have for his continued development, and Allen can learn some things from Thompson as well, including in the leadership aspect.