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Tristan Thompson is one of only three players (soon to be four with the signing of Channing Frye on Saturday) who played for the Cleveland Cavaliers during their storybook 2016 NBA championship season.
Thompson, who along with Kevin Love and J.R. Smith (and Frye) are the only remnants of the championship roster from three years ago, took nine the Cavs’ 92-87 victory over the Houston Rockets on Saturday in Las Vegas Summer League play.
Like everyone associated with the Cavaliers, Thompson likes what he’s seen from rookie point guard Collin Sexton, who tied for team-high honors with 17 points in the win Saturday, laying out what his role will be with the eighth overall selection in the NBA draft out of Alabama.
“Just try to make his transition as easy as possible, you know?” Thompson said. “We’ve got a lot of games. It’s kind of different than college, where they play two, three games [a week]. But the NBA’s a grind, the back-to-backs. Just being in his ear, you know, and telling him to take care of his body, be patient.”
Thompson said he will stress attempting to remain even-keeled to the rookie point guard.
“He’s going to have games where he’s going to feel he’s the top of the top and games where he feels like he’s done his best,” he said. “But stay even-keeled, and it’s my job, Kevin [Love]’s, the veteran guys we have coming back to help lead our point guard of the future.”
The 27-year-old Thompson is well aware things are going to be much different in Cleveland this season with LeBron James having taken leave from the Cavaliers for a second time, signing a three-year (with a player option for a fourth year), $153 million contract with the Los Angeles Lakers.
“Yeah, you know, we had a great run with LeBron and, you know, four straight Finals, also winning a championship. That was definitely huge,” Thompson said. “But with the guys we’ve got now, we’ve got veteran guys that have had a winning basketball experience and I think it was great for Larry [Nance Jr.], Rodney Hood, Jordan Clarkson to be part of that final year and that final run just so that, the situation right now, we’ve still got a chance to make the playoffs.”
Thompson said talk of Cleveland bottoming out next season are not accurate.
“We’re still a good team and if you look on paper, we’ve got a lot of talented guys,” he said. “Adding Collin and some of the other guys that we got playing in summer league, we’re going in the right direction.”