The Cleveland Cavaliers are loading the gun and appear to be the favorite in the NBA Eastern Conference. If the rumors hold true, then Kevin Love will become a Cavalier in the next week or so and will be one for the next five seasons. Love, alongside LeBron James and Kyrie Irving, form a formidable threesome, but more importantly will place the Cavaliers over the salary cap for years to come.
Extending Tristan Thompson now is important for the future of this ball club.
There, I said it. Cleveland fans generally aren’t too happy with Thompson. He’s logged over 6600 minutes in the NBA and he’s had mixed results. The Cavaliers have been downright awful during his tenure with the club in part because big men develop more slowly, and in part because he hasn’t exactly been surrounded with the most talented teammates.
The 2014-15 season should change all of that both for Thompson and the Cavaliers. Playing alongside Love, James and Irving offers plenty of pluses and allows Thompson to focus on his strengths; rebounding and rim protecting. He’ll also get plenty of hand-off dunk opportunities, as well as wide-open 15-footers (from where he’s league average), which makes me believe this could be Thompson’s best season yet.
So, why extend a mediocre big man to a contract prior to the start of the season? Last season, the Utah Jazz were in the same predicament with Gordon Hayward. The Jazz refused to extend him prior to the season and wound up paying him far more ($16 million per season) than he’s probably worth. I don’t think the Cavaliers will want to make that same mistake with Thompson.
Still, why pay, and possibly overpay now for a mediocre big man who might never get any better than he is now? Even if Thompson doesn’t get any better than he is right now, a dependable rim protector and rebounder, especially one already on the roster, is worth more than taking a chance on a MLE or veteran’s minimum player later — even if the Cavs do have to overpay him.