Report: Cavs bringing back familiar face to help solidify frontcourt

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Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports

NBA big man Tristan Thompson reportedly is finalizing a deal to return to the Cleveland Cavaliers for the 2023-24 season.

Thompson, who won a title with the Cavs in the 2015-16 season, most recently played for the Los Angeles Lakers in the playoffs in the 2022-23 season.

The No. 4 overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft, Thompson spent the first nine seasons of his NBA career with Cleveland. He ended up leaving the Cavs following the 2019-20 campaign.

Since then, Thompson has bounced around the NBA and even had a stint as an analyst for ESPN. He’s played for the Boston Celtics, Sacramento Kings, Indiana Pacers, Chicago Bulls and Lakers since leaving Cleveland.

While Thompson played in six games for the Lakers during their playoff run last season, his last considerable NBA stint came in the 2021-22 season.

During the 2021-22 campaign for the Kings, Pacers and Bulls, Thompson averaged 6.0 points and 5.1 rebounds per game while shooting 52.8 percent from the field.

Bringing Thompson back gives the Cavs some depth in their frontcourt behind players like Evan Mobley, Georges Niang, Jarrett Allen and Damian Jones. Thompson is a gritty rebounder and defender who could help the Cavs in short spurts in the 2023-24 campaign.

Cleveland could also use Thompson’s veteran leadership on a young team. The Cavs made the playoffs last season, but they were knocked out in the first round by the New York Knicks in just five games. For players like Darius Garland, Isaac Okoro and Mobley, it was their first taste of playoff action.

Thompson has played in four NBA Finals in his career, helping the LeBron James-led Cavs against the Golden State Warriors. During his first Cavs stint, he averaged 9.4 points and 8.7 rebounds per game across nine seasons.

Cavs fans have to be excited to see a familiar face rejoining the franchise, and there is certainly a chance that Thompson will play a meaningful role for another playoff-caliber Cavs team.

After finishing with the No. 4 seed in the 2022-23 season, Cleveland is hoping to take another step in its second season with Donovan Mitchell on the roster. Between Mitchell, Garland, Allen and Mobley, the Cavs have one of the best young cores in the NBA.

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Peter is a graduate of Quinnipiac University where he covered the MAAC and college basketball for three years. He has worked for NBC Sports, the Connecticut Sun and the Meriden Record-Journal covering basketball and other major sports. Follow him on Twitter @peterdewey2.