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Cavaliers ironman Tristan Thompson headed to Celtics

By Marla Ridenour, Akron Beacon Journal on

Published in Basketball

Tristan Thompson was more than just the Cavaliers' ironman.

The nine-year veteran center became their leader after the second departure of LeBron James, willing to shepherd a young team through the perils of rebuilding.

In six of his final nine games as a Cav, Thompson came off the bench, drawing praise from his new coach J.B. Bickerstaff.

But above all, Thompson was an anchor during the Cavs' run to the 2016 NBA championship and four consecutive Finals appearances, content to do the dirty work while the Big Three of James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love dominated the headlines.

A league source confirmed Saturday night that free agent Thompson was headed to the Boston Celtics on a two-year, $19 million contract. The Celtics used their full mid-level exception on Thompson.

Deals can become official on Sunday.

 

With Matthew Dellavedova also a free agent, Thompson's departure leaves Love as the only Cav under contract from the 2016 title team.

In 2019-20, Thompson played out the final year of a five-year, $82 million deal that paid him $18.5 million. While Thompson preferred to join a playoff contender, Love and Larry Nance Jr. had lobbied for the Cavs to retain Thompson.

"I got to see the evolution in his game, as a leader on and off the floor and just how fun he is to be around," Love said of Thompson during a June 12 Zoom call. "(He) has really grown to be like a brother of mine."

Thompson, 29, made the most of his contract year, averaging a career-high 12.0 points and 10.1 rebounds, just one-tenth off his career-best from 2018-19.

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