The last few months have been very interesting for the Cleveland Cavaliers and power forward Tristan Thompson. The two sides have had on and off again conversations regarding a long-term deal, and Thompson’s reluctance to budge in negotiations have dominated NBA headlines. The saga has finally come to an end.
— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) October 21, 2015
Per reports, the Cavs and Thompson have agreed to terms on a massive five-year, $82 million deal. The new deal ends months of speculation that Thompson may never sign a long-term deal, as well as debate over what his contract would look like.
Ultimately, Thompson waited as long as he could and got the deal he wanted. It was understandably deserved after an outstanding showing in the playoffs a year ago, where Thompson stepped up in the wake of an injury to Kevin Love. Thompson started numerous crucial games at the power forward spot and helped at both power forward and center all season. Thompson took a bit of a backseat initially when Cleveland acquired Love in a trade with the Minnesota Timberwolves, but continued to provide a spark off the bench as a defender and offensive rebounder.
While a solid signing in terms of depth, it’s worth wondering if Thompson was worth the money he got. Once a key starter that was regarded as a building block for the franchise, Thompson is not even a starter with Love in town and doesn’t offer much in terms of offense. In other words, Cleveland paid out a big contract to keep a hustle guy who cleans the glass and defends.
That can be looked at from two ways, but there is a clear positive in having a young, physical post presence – especially since Love is not as physical in the paint and isn’t near the defender Thompson has proven to be. More importantly, center Anderson Varejao can’t really be counted on for major minutes after missing much of last season due to an Achilles injury. Add that to the piles of ailments Varejao has dealt with during his career, and Thompson’s presence even as a key depth piece off the bench appears to be quite valuable.
The Cavs may have paid a little more than they wanted – or a lot more – but letting Thompson go wasn’t really an option. Not only did they need Thompson for depth behind Love and starting center Timofey Mozgov, but they also needed his tenacity and toughness. Also, LeBron James runs the team in a lot of ways, and he was adamant about Thompson sticking around and getting paid for his contributions.
In the end, it looks like all parties win in this one and Thompson can rejoin Cleveland’s bid to win a title during the 2015-16 NBA season. Considering they almost did it last year despite not being remotely close to full strength, the odds of that happening are fairly good.