Tristan Thompson appears to be taking the news that Kevin Love will replace him as the Cleveland Cavaliers’ starting center really well.
Like, really, really, really ridiculously well.
His response to the move, per ESPN.com’s Dave McMenamin:
“I’m going to go for Sixth Man of the Year, put myself in position to do that,” Thompson said after the scrimmage. “Just play hard, though. I’m not going to look too much into it, but if you’re going to come off the bench, might as well have a little goal — and I feel like with the second unit we have and the energy that I bring off the bench, I’ll put myself in pretty good position. Especially when you win.”
Thompson, 26, accepted Lue’s decision in stride.
It was fine,” he said. “I definitely knew where T-Lue was coming from and it was definitely tough, I could see when I was talking to him, but I told him I’m one guy you don’t have to worry about. I’m a team-first guy. I understand that at the end of the day it’s about winning and if you win, we all look good — whether you come off the bench or you start. And it’s not about who starts the game, it’s about who is in the game in the fourth and who is finishing it. So, I’m not worried. The last time I came off the bench, if history repeats itself, we had a parade in June. So, I’ll take it.”
Do not underestimate the importance of this attitude.
Yes, Thompson is entering the third season of a five-year, $82 million contract. His salary won’t dip because he’s coming off the bench and, presumably, not playing as many minutes. But he’s also 26, in the prime of his career, years into a accepting a less-prominent role than he may have enjoyed elsewhere. That he takes no issue with this change is a huge deal.
Not everyone in his position would take this approach. Hell, Kyrie Irving left the Cleveland Cavaliers at least in part because he wanted a more glamorous role. That’s his right, and the same opportunities aren’t available to an offensively limited Thompson, but his ability to look beyond the starting lineup, into the bigger picture, is admirable—particularly when, just weeks ago, this option didn’t even appear to be on the table. He deserves to be commended for this reaction.