Can the Cavaliers afford to lose Tristan Thompson?

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Tristan Thompson

Tristan Thompson was the x-factor in the playoffs for the Cleveland Cavaliers this past season. It was his first playoff appearance in his young NBA career and he proved he can play against the best big men this league has to offer. He proved himself at the end of the season as well, turning on his scoring ability and creating a defensive presence that helped vault the Cavaliers to an NBA Finals appearance.

During this past season’s playoffs, Thompson averaged 9.6 points with 10.7 rebounds per contest, but his presence was felt beyond the numbers. In the conference semifinals, he forced Pau Gasol, in the three games he played against them, to average around 13 points per contest. Thompson’s inside presence against the Golden State Warriors in the Finals was simply unmatched. Unfortunately for Cleveland, Stephen Curry, and injuries to the Cleveland roster, proved to be too much for them to handle.

The looming question for Cleveland right now is this — will Tristan Thompson return next season? If not, how will Cleveland fair?

The Cavaliers and Thompson have been butting heads all offseason over Thompson’s new contract. Thompson wants a max contract of $94 million, while Cleveland wants to only give him $80 million.

From Brian Windhorst of ESPN:

With a week to go until the start of training camp, there remains a $14 million gap in contract talks between restricted free agent Tristan Thompson and the Cleveland Cavaliers, sources told ESPN.com.

The Cavs have held firm at an offer of five years and $80 million with Thompson looking for a max contract of $94 million over the same span, sources said. The talks have been at a virtual standstill since early July, and there isn’t much optimism on either side.

I don’t think Thompson is worth the money he is asking for, but Cleveland might not have a choice if they want to remain the best in the East.

Remember when Anderson Varejao went down with a season-ending achilles injury, and LeBron took a hiatus too? Well it seemed like hell on earth in Cleveland for that time period. Then they signed Timofy Mozgov, who to me, seems like the best signing they could have made. With Mozgov, it gave Cleveland the inside presence they needed along with Thompson.

Now, if Thompson leaves, where does that leave Cleveland?

Well, they better hope an injury-prone Varejao stays healthy for them, as well as Mozgov. If Cleveland doesn’t stay healthy, it could spell another season of high hopes with major disappointment.

I hope it works for the better. LeBron wants to bring a title to Cleveland more than anything. Cleveland hasn’t won a title since 1964 and I feel their pain, partially, as a Philadelphia sports fan.

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