Donovan Mitchell on why he gained even more respect for Tristan Thompson after he violated anti-drug program

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Cleveland Cavaliers guard Donovan Mitchell shared that he gained even more respect for Cavs big man Tristan Thompson after Thompson delivered an emotional apology to the team for his suspension.

Thompson was suspended for 25 games by the NBA for violating the league’s anti-drug program. He tested positive for ibutamoren and SARM LGD-4033.

The veteran forward apologized to the team before Cleveland’s loss to the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday night that snapped a major win streak.

“It was tough to see him get emotional,” Mitchell said when asked about Thompson’s speech. “Tough to see your brother go through that. T.T. is my guy. He’s a hell of a person. We ride for our brother. People are going to say what they’re going to say but at the end of the day, he’s a human being.

“It takes a lot of courage to stand up there and speak in front of teammates and hold yourself accountable like that. I gained even more respect for him. A simple apology would have been fine. But he went and explained it. We will welcome him back when he comes back.”

Thompson signed a one-year deal with the Cavs this past offseason. He is averaging 3.8 points, 3.9 rebounds and 1.1 assists per game while shooting 64.9 percent from the floor. Thompson had appeared in 36 games this season prior to the suspension.

Based on the length of his suspension, Thompson will be able to return to the Cavs late in the 2023-24 regular season. That will be helpful to the team, as it could use frontcourt depth ahead of the postseason (should the Cavs make the playoffs).

However, losing Thompson right now is tough, as star big man Evan Mobley has been out of the lineup with an injury.

Now, there will be even more pressure on Jarrett Allen to carry the load in the frontcourt for Cleveland.

Thompson, who won a title with the Cavs in the 2016 season, has played in 10 seasons with the franchise. It’s clear that he’s a respected figure in the locker room, even though his game is not what it was during the Cavs’ four straight NBA Finals appearances in LeBron James’ second stint with the franchise.

It’s great to see a leader like Mitchell on Thompson’s side, as it should make the transition — when Thompson can come back and play — a little easier later on this season.

For now, the Cavs will do their best to stay in the playoff picture without the veteran big man. Cleveland currently holds the No. 4 seed in the East with a 26-16 record.

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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.