Bringing back Tristan Thompson may be the wisest move the Cleveland Cavaliers could make in free agency, given their limited wiggle room and overall appreciation of the veteran center, Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com recently opined.
Thompson will be an unrestricted free agent, and while an NBA salary cap for 2020-21 has yet to be determined, a source recently told SI.com the Cavs have a "very strong" desire to keep him.
Fedor quoted a source as predicting a Thompson return is "50-50," writing that the sides have a mutual interest in staying together.
Thompson, 29, is the longest-tenured member of the Cavs, drafted fourth overall by the team in 2011. He continued to play a major role even after the team traded for center Andre Drummond in February, which moved Thompson out of his starting spot.
Along with that, Thompson also embraced being of the Cavs' senior spokesmen, offering guidance to younger teammates such as Collin Sexton, Darius Garland and Kevin Porter Jr. Thompson also respects coach J.B. Bickerstaff and the feeling is mutual.
“He’s just so valuable for this team and this organization," Cavs power forward Kevin Love said of Thompson. "I really hope he’s back.”
Thompson told SI.com before the season that he is just going to do his job and let the "business people" do theirs when it comes time for free agency.
"I got drafted here and I won a championship here," he told SI.com. "I have great memories here. I am a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers and it is my job to punch the clock and come to work every day for the organization. That is how I approach it.
"There are people who get paid for the business side -- (agent) Rich Paul and (Cavs general manager) Koby Altman and others. That business stuff is all for them. For me, it's about just being a player."
Here's more out of Cleveland:
- Miami Heat swingman and NBA Slam Dunk champion Derrick Jones Jr. may be the Cavs' top free-agent target, Fedor wrote, adding to something John Hollinger of The Athletic eluded to back in June. The Cavs have a full mid-level exception with which to work in free agency, Fedor noted.
- Among the other potential targets listed by Fedor: Memphis Grizzlies small forward Josh Jackson, Milwaukee Bucks shooting guard Pat Connaughton and Dallas Mavericks small forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, whose career faded quickly after being named Rookie of the Year in 2014.
- While the Cavs may have no choice but to keep their No. 5 overall draft pick, an opposing executive has repeatedly insisted to SI.com that their strong preference is to use it as part of a package for a proven veteran. "I think they will be extremely determined (to trade the pick)," the exec said.