Tristan Thompson likely to walk
In an idyllic world, Tristan Thompson stays, on a reduced deal and comes off the bench with Larry Nance, Dyland Windler, Kevin Porter Jr. and occasionally Matthew Delevadova (on a way reduced deal). This isn’t that kind of world, however, and Thompson is making $18.5 million this year and will want something close to that price next year. Drummond is an upgrade over Thompson and unless Thompson is willing to do work for about a fourth of his 2019-2020 salary, then Thompson will walk.
What will he get in this free-agent period? That’s an interesting question. He wasn’t worth a first-round pick to any team, so he’s clearly not earning his salary in the eyes of the league. He won’t covet a pay raise in 2020 but he could still earn himself eight figures and that’s not going to help the Cavs to try and bring him back at that price. So odds are he’ll end up moving on, probably to a team that doesn’t have much depth or makes huge trades in the off-season that requires some position filling.
The issue against keeping him, however, is that Thompson has never been a good offensive player. The Cavs already have Larry Nance Jr. locked up for the next three and a half years, at a depreciating contract. Offensively Nance gives you the same skill set as Thompson, with the added bonus that he’s better in transition.
Per 36 has Nance averaging almost identical numbers as Thompson for the 2019-2020 season, so what value does a nearly 30-year old Thompson have on the roster that already has the better and more affordable version of him? Not much, that’s for sure.