Cavaliers hoping for Thompson return as free agency bell tolls

Cavaliers center Tristan Thompson battles for the ball with Spurs guard Derrick White. Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Tristan Thompson is drawing interest ahead of free agency and the Cavaliers are among the teams that would like to sign him.

Thompson is valued by coaches and teammates alike — one of the game’s top offensive rebounders, a determined defender and a leader in the locker room. For all the writeups he gets on those celebrity gossip sites, Thompson is as down-to-earth as they come.

He has told Amico Hoops that the Cavs will always hold a special place in his heart. They are the team that drafted him, the only NBA team with which he’s ever played. He won a championship with Cleveland in 2016.

Those things mean something to Thompson.

And he means a lot to the Cavs and their fans.

But pro basketball is a business, and the business aspect is way up there when it comes to where Thompson will play next. He is an unrestricted free agent — meaning he can sign anywhere without the Cavs getting a chance to match an offer.

We’ve heard the Los Angeles Lakers and LA Clippers as two other potential suitors for Thompson. One report even suggested the Lakers are deciding between re-signing Dwight Howard, or using that money for Thompson.

It’s hard to know if that’s actually true. But the Lakers would definitely make sense. Thompson has a house in LA. His agent is Rich Paul, the Cleveland native who also happens to represent LeBron James.

In all, Paul’s Klutch Sports agency represented six members of the Lakers last season. Along with James, LA’s list of Paul clients included Anthony Davis, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Dion Waiters, J.R. Smith and rookie Talen Horton-Tucker.

Paul has quickly risen through the ranks of NBA agents. There is a reason for that. He is savvy, a man who serves his clients’ best interests.

For Thompson, that may or may not be the Cavs.

“I’ve been here the longest. We’ve had some success and put a championship banner in the arena,” Thompson told Amico Hoops way back before the start of last season. “I am just focused on being the best Tristan Thompson I can be.

“All the business of basketball and speculation is just part of the game. It will be like that from now until you’re done playing. So you just control what you can control — and that’s your effort on the court and being a professional.”


This seems to have gone unnoticed, but Thompson averaged a career-high 12.0 points last season. He tied his career high with 10.1 rebounds. He continued to take great pride in his defense, especially with how well he often fared when getting switched off onto wing players.

There are plenty of reasons to like Thompson the player.

Thompson the person was also invaluable. As he said, he has been with the Cavaliers longer than anyone on the current roster (or coaching staff, for that matter).

His voice is respected in the locker room. He is a good mix of someone who can be light-hearted, someone who can offer instruction to the young players and someone who will be brutally honest when the need calls for it.

He will bring those things with him wherever he goes.

Everything is likely to be determined within the next week. The free agency period begins at 6 p.m. EST on Friday.

Cavs center Andre Drummond picked up his contract option, meaning Drummond is likely to be in Cleveland for at least a little while longer. Drummond plays the same position as Thompson, and you can be sure that is something Thompson will consider.

But he will also consider the Cavs and the Cavs are glad he will. They would like him back and that’s a good starting point in negotiations.

About the Author

Sam Amico
Sam Amico is the founder and senior writer of Amico Hoops. He has covered the NBA on a full-time basis for both Sports Illustrated and FOX Sports, and has been a regular contributor to CBS Sports, the Boston Herald and

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