Cleveland Cavaliers forward Tristan Thompson recently ended his holdout after agreeing to a five-year, $82 million extension with the Cavs. Cleveland's front office was praised for finally getting the deal done and locking up arguably the league's best offensive rebounder, but I don't believe that's the case. In fact, it was actually a huge, huge mistake. Here are three reasons why:
3) Limited offensive game
Thompson makes his money on the offensive glass, and rightfully so. His rebounding on that end of the floor won multiple games for the Cavs in the postseason last year, but that's about all he's good at on the offensive end. He's never averaged more than 11.7 points per game in a season (including just 8.5 last year) and shoots under 49 percent in his career, a number that's well below average for an interior player. That's because he doesn't have any reliable post moves and his range only extends out to about 12-15 feet.
Grantland's Zach Lowe summed up Thompson's offensive struggles perfectly:
He’s a complete non-shooter, and he hasn’t learned to compensate by tossing quick-hitting interior dishes through the tiny slivers that open when he rolls to the basket. He just doesn’t read the floor fast enough. He likes to pause, gather the ball, bring it below his waist, and prime for the next move as help defenders swipe at him.
Thompson is not an especially explosive above-the-rim finisher. He needs time to load up for jumps, and defenders use that window to rotate over and swat him. That’s not ideal for a garbage man, and Thompson on offense is basically that — a bouncy mooch.
2) Inconsistent defense
Thompson is also very limited on the defensive end as well. At just 6'8", he's not a true rim protector, as shown by his career average of 0.7 blocks per game. He's physical enough to handle opponents in the post and can guard perimeter players on defensive switches (though not consistently), but Cleveland needs a rim protector to play with their average defensive roster - which is why they traded for Timofey Mozgov. Again, Thompson is solid on that end of the floor, but not enough to make a big difference.
1) Can't play him and Kevin Love on the floor at the same time
This is the biggest reason why the Cavs really make a mistake. Cleveland gave Love a five-year, $112 million deal earlier in the offseason, meaning they're now paying a combined $192 million to two guys who play the same position. Love is a defensive liability, and since Thompson isn't a great rim protector, the Cavs become one of the worst defensive teams in the league when they're on the court together.
That caused head coach David Blatt to start playing Thompson over Blatt in the fourth quarter down the stretch of the season, opting for Thompson's rebounding over Love's scoring. That's fine, but it's clear the Cavs made the commitment to keep Love in the starting lineup and playing late in games by the massive contract they gave him.
Essentially, Cleveland just paid $82 million to a role player who can't be on the court at the same time as one of the Cavs' three core players. Yes, the new increased salary cap will lessen the effect of Thompson's contract, but it still doesn't allow Cleveland to make other moves to improve the team - and will put them in a SERIOUS bind when they have to pay LeBron James around $40 million a year in 2016 or 2017 (depending on if he opts out of his contract again).
My guess is that Thompson finds himself playing for another team in the next two or three years.Back to the Cleveland Cavaliers Newsfeed