Now in the second year of a five-year, $82MM pact, Cleveland big man Tristan Thompson balked at criticisms that he hasn’t lived up to his contract. “I earned my money,” Thompson told Dave McMenamin of ESPN. “LeBron’s not my agent. I earned my money doing what I do; you can ask anyone around the league. I opened doors for other guys. It’s a business, and you get paid what the market value is for you. I got my money and opened up doors for other guys that play hard and do the little things.”
While Thompson certainly hasn’t been a hindrance to the 32-14 Cavs, his numbers aren’t what they were in 2012 and 2013. Thompson has averaged 7.5 points with 9.7 rebounds through 46 games while shooting a career-worst 49.3% from the free-throw line. For what it’s worth, Thompson still has LeBron James‘ stamp of approval. “He’s the one rim protector that we have, and we need him to continue to do that,” James said. “You know he’s going to clean glass, but when he’s active like that — trying to get shots blocked and things of that nature, it helps us a lot.”
Other goings-on in the ‘Land…
- Kevin Love was removed from the second half of Cleveland’s 107-91 win over OKC on Sunday, and did not make the trip for tonight’s match-up with Dallas. Love, who suffered lower-back spasms in a 12-minute outing, will remain in Cleveland to undergo an MRI. “It’s nothing to play with,” James told Dave McMenamin of ESPN. “It’s a terrible feeling when your back is hurt. It just limits you more than anything. I know it’s very frustrating for him because he puts in a lot of work. He’s in the weight room all the time, and he’s doing his thing to keep his body in shape, then this is happening to him, so it’s very frustrating.”
- Cleveland will use their “next man up” mentality without Love against the Mavericks tonight. “Guys have got to step up. This has been our mantra since we first all came together, ‘The Next Man Up,'” Thompson told Matthew Florjancic of WKYC. “We hope Kevin gets well, takes care of his body because we’re going to need him for the long haul. Whatever he has to do to get to 100 percent, that’s the most important thing because we need Kev for the long haul. Everyone wants to push it through, but if you’re hurt or you’re not well, get right because we’re going to need the big fella.” With Love sidelined, Channing Frye appears to be the most logical candidate to receive a bump in court time.
- The Cavaliers were among the teams featured in Bobby Marks’ NBA trade guide on The Vertical. To their detriment, Cleveland has only $750K to offer in a trade, and just one second-round pick over the next four years. GM David Griffin has displayed an aggressive nature on the trade market, Marks notes, having completed three January trades since joining the team in 2014. Marks predicts Cleveland will swoop in to sign veterans bought out after the trade deadline.