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Best case, worst case: Tristan Thompson

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It’s a pivotal year for the longest tenured Cav.

Cleveland Cavaliers v Golden State Warriors Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Best Case

Chris Manning (@cwmwrites): The best-case moving forward for Thompson is that a summer off from Canada basketball and no deep playoff run for the Cavs means he’s refreshed and ready to go. Remember: he was pretty freaking good before some injuries piled up last year. Ideally, he’ll step-up, play really well in a contract year and either a) get flipped for something at the deadline and re-up on an extension that makes sense for both sides.

Justin Rowan (@cavsanada): The absolute best case scenario for Thompson would be for him to sign a team-friendly extension, plays like his pre-2017 injury self on defense and continues to show his improved skills as a passer he flashed last season. In reality, he’s more likely to be trade bait as an expiring contract, but with Larry Nance Jr. as one of the worst rim protectors in basketball last season he’s probably their only player with a chance of being a positive defensive fit next to Kevin Love.

David Zavac (@DavidZavac): Selfishly, I’d like to keep around 2016 title guys as long as possible. It’s interesting that the iron man simply hasn’t functioned that way over the last couple years, and that’s put a serious damper on his value. He’s playing for a new deal now and had a full summer off, so we’ll see how he comes back. I’d like to believe he’s still a capable starting center in the league that can handle 25-28 minutes a game. He’s at the stage of his career where he’ll need to develop skills to overcome declining athleticism. He’s a worker, so he’ll have to go back to his roots a little bit to evolve. There’s no reason why, if he’s healthy, he can’t be valuable — the question is whether it will be in Cleveland.

Worst Case

CM: Thompson, with the amount of minutes he’s played and the injuries he’s had, just isn’t the same player anymore. Injuries pile up again for him and he just isn’t close to being the same type of player he was in 2016 and before. That means his future with the Cavs comes to an end in an uncomfortable way considering how important he’s been to the franchise and how good he’s been. Man, this could get bleak and not very fun to watch.

JR: Nagging injuries continue to take their toll on Thompson and the Cavs are forced to settle for an underwhelming return. When available, he’s always given his all for the Cavs. Unfortunately years of deep playoff runs, playing through injury without a proper backup and playing internationally after Finals runs have taken their toll on him. If his time with the Cavs does come to an end this year, it likely won’t be as unceremonious as other key members of the title team. But if it is coming to an end, it would be nice for him to at least play well and find a situation that benefits both he and the Cavs.

DZ: He just doesn’t have the athleticism to overcome his skills deficit anymore. I’d be somewhat surprised if it came to this, but he’s struggled for a couple years now. Hopefully he’s refreshed and has a spring in his step. There’s a reason why he didn’t make top 30 lists in terms of next summer’s free agency. He needs a resurgence to remind people why they liked him several years ago.