The Cleveland Cavaliers and center Tristan Thompson had been rumored to be parting ways for months before the 2019-20 trade deadline in February, but Thompson stayed in town through the end of his five-year, $82 million contract that expired this season.
However, a reunion could be in the mix for the free-agent big man and the Cavs, who drafted the ex-Texas star fourth overall in 2011.
Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com provided the following report Friday: "Over the last few months, the Cavs' odds of keeping Thompson have increased—even if slightly. They also own his Bird rights, allowing them to pay a tick more than the mid-level while also staying out of the tax. That would seem to satisfy both sides."
Fedor also quoted a league source close to Thompson who said: "I believe there's a chance of him re-signing in free agency. He hasn't necessarily played his final game there."
Another source called a Thompson return a "50-50" proposition and said both sides are interested in a deal.
"The Cavs recognize his value, both on and off the floor," Fedor wrote. "They were impressed with his attitude, especially following Drummond's arrival that booted Thompson out of the starting lineup. They've heard the calls from Kevin Love, Larry Nance Jr. and other teammates about bringing Thompson back."
Thompson, 29, has played nine NBA seasons, all in the burgundy and gold. He averaged a double-double for the second straight year in 2019-20 by posting 12.0 points on 51.2 percent shooting and 10.1 rebounds per game. Thompson started 51 of his 57 games for the Cavs last year.
The center was on all four of the Cavs' Eastern Conference championship teams from 2015-2018, including the 2016 NBA Finals-title winning squad that took down the Golden State Warriors, who earned the league's all-time best regular-season record at 73-9.
It's clear how beloved Thompson is among his teammates, as Fedor mentioned, with Cavs star forward Kevin Love sending this tweet in August:
Love, a five-time All-Star and two-time All-NBA team member, has been Thompson's frontcourt mate since arriving in Cleveland in 2014.
The Cavs are looking to rebound from a 19-46 season that saw the firing of first-year head coach John Beilein in mid-February.
Cleveland closed the year stronger under interim coach J.B. Bickerstaff, going 5-6. Bickerstaff will lead the Cavs into the 2020-21 season as their head coach.