One of the things we are going to learn this season is who the core is for the Cleveland Cavaliers. The team has a mix of young players and veterans, making projections for the rotations tough to figure out.
Of the young players, Larry Nance Jr. is one of the more interesting names. He is only a year younger than Tristan Thompson, although he comes with considerably less mileage on his odometer. If both are healthy, there is the potential for a real battle for minutes at the center position.
While Thompson’s future with the team is unclear, the Cavs are reportedly looking to lock-up Nance long-term. According to Tom Withers of the AP, there is a strong belief that the team will sign Nance to an extension by the end of October.
#Cavs hoping to sign Larry Nance Jr. to long-term deal, there's confidence deal will get done.— Tom Withers (@twithersAP) September 25, 2018
Should an extension materialize, it’ll be interesting to see how much money the team allocates to Nance annually. Thompson’s back-loaded deal means that he is owed just over $36 million over the next two seasons. Should Nance get a deal in the teens, it might be a sign that the team will look to move Thompson for salary relief.
In theory, there’s no reason the tandem couldn’t work together if the money was right. Both players are high-energy role players that provide the team with a pick and roll threat as well as rebounding. Both players also have shown that they are less effective when asked to play over 30 minutes a game.
Split duties could help preserve the health and reliability of both players. However it would then raise questions about what the plan is for the development for Ante Zizic. It’s just another example of one of the roster questions that will hopefully be resolved at some point this season.