Sep 15, 2023 - News

Tristan Thompson's return will ignite debate over retiring his jersey

The Cavs' Tristan Thompson, in wine-colored uniform, during a game in 2017

Tristan Thompson in 2017. Photo: Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The Cleveland Cavaliers signed big man Tristan Thompson to a one-year contract this week, reuniting with the toughened playoff vet who spent nine seasons with the franchise.

Why it matters: Thompson is a controversial player among fans, and he now occupies a crucial roster spot on a team with deep postseason aspirations.

  • His performance this year could dictate his legacy in Cleveland, and it may tip the scales in the debate over whether to retire his jersey.

The case for TT: Despite his gossip-column escapades off the court, Thompson was a member of the 2016 championship team and a true ironman, appearing in 619 total games.

  • That's seventh-most all-time on the Cavs — more than Mark Price, Brad Daugherty and Kevin Love. If he appears in 42 games this season, he would leap to fifth.

Between the lines: Thompson's most potent weapon was offensive rebounding. Though he was never a shooter, he kept hundreds of possessions alive with his hustle and muscle.

  • If he grabs 221 offensive boards this season, (a tall order, given his limited playing time), he would surpass Zydrunas Ilgauskas to become the franchise's all-time leader in that category.

The case against TT: Most famous for his relationship with Khloe Kardashian, Thompson rode LeBron James's coattails to four straight NBA Finals appearances and still doesn't know what hand he shoots with.

  • With more weaknesses than strengths on the court, he was perhaps the fifth- or sixth-most-important player on the dominant LeBron rosters of the 2010s. The rafters should be reserved for true giants of the franchise.

Of note: Thompson wore No. 13, which is technically currently assigned to Ricky Rubio, who announced this summer that he was taking a break from basketball to focus on his mental health.

What do you think? Should Tristan Thompson have his jersey retired at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse?


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