After a 107-80 win over defending Euroleague champion Sunday, Maccabi Tel Aviv, there is a debate who will be the starting center, will it be Tristan Thompson or will it be Anderson Varejao?
The off-season acquisition of Kevin Love seems to have forced Thompson to the bench. Prior to this, Thompson worked as the starting center through the first week of practice and debuted there during the teams Wine & Gold scrimmage. Due to Varejao’s history of injuries and Thompson’s upside, the Cavaliers have a dilemma on which big man will be the proverbial man in the middle.
On the court, both players are similar rebounding machines, but statistically, Varejao is a slightly better rim protector and has more range offensively.
Varejao and Thompson are both essentially be playing this season for their next contracts. Varejao is an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season. Truthfully, with his history of injuries, this writer seriously doubts he will get top-dollar.
Another factor is that LeBron James is back and they are good friends, Varejao is here to stay.
Thompson is only 23 and very much in pursuit of a new deal. The Cavaliers have until Oct. 31 to come to terms with him on an extension, otherwise he’ll become a restricted free-agent next summer.
The clock is ticking and little negotiations between the two sides are very slow. Thompson shares an agent with James and will be seeking a significant raise on his next deal, securing a starting spot for this season could be very important to him.
If recent history is any indication, James will want to see Thompson get paid, and the Cavaliers want to keep James happy.
It would be in Thompson’s best interest to take this to restricted free agency given the talent surrounding him. Love’s skills as a stretch power forward, coupled with Blatt’s new up-tempo offense that spaces the floor, will leave Thompson alone inside to grab rebounds and produce big numbers.
Thompson knew his future was at center once Love arrived, so he began adding muscle for the expected pounding. But for all the talk of adding a rim protector at center, the Cavs privately believe they have the right mix of pieces to win.
As for Varejao, he has remained the consummate teammate throughout the years and role changes at both power fowad, center and sixth man/energy guy. He lost his starting job briefly last season when Andrew Bynum signed, and now could be losing it again.