Tristan Thompson is set for a reunion with the Cleveland Cavaliers, who are finalizing a deal with the veteran big man, according to Shams Charania. Terms of the contract are unclear at this time, but it will almost certainly be a one-year deal at the veteran's minimum for Thompson.
The No. 4 overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft, Thompson spent the first nine seasons of his career in Cleveland. While he never put up huge numbers, he blossomed into a key part of their championship team in 2016 and helped them make four consecutive Finals appearances alongside LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love. His big 15-point, 16-rebound double-double in Game 6 of the 2016 Finals to keep the Cavs' season alive was perhaps the most important performance of his career.
Since leaving the Cavaliers in 2020, Thompson has bounced around and played somewhat sparingly. During those years he's spent time with the Boston Celtics, Sacramento Kings, Indiana Pacers, Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers. Last season, he notably did not play in the regular season, but appeared in six games for the Lakers during their Western Conference finals run after signing with the team just prior to the playoffs.
Thompson doesn't have a ton to offer on the court at this stage of his career, but the Cavaliers are desperate for frontcourt depth and could use some veteran experience.
After Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen, the only true big man on the roster heading into training camp was Damian Jones. While it's unlikely that Thompson is going to play significant minutes this season, he's at least another option should an injury arise or there's a night with a lot of foul trouble.
In addition, the Cavs' expected starting lineup has an average age of 24.8 years old, and last season's first-round appearance was the first playoff experience for key figures such as Mobley and Darius Garland. Of those five, new free agent signing Max Strus is the only one who has been beyond the second round. This is a young, inexperienced team that looked completely out of its depth against the Knicks in their five-game defeat, and Thompson can help add some experience and leadership to the locker room.
There are certainly worse moves the Cavaliers could have made with their final roster spot, and the reunion aspect adds a feel-good factor.