Cavaliers Rumors: Tristan Thompson Gives A Strong Message To Celtics, Sixers, And Raptors

Can the LeBron-less Cavaliers defend their title as Eastern Conference champions next season?

Thompson says Cavs are still East champs
Jamie Sabau / Getty Images

Can the LeBron-less Cavaliers defend their title as Eastern Conference champions next season?

When LeBron James returned in 2014, the Cleveland Cavaliers immediately became a legitimate title contender in the Eastern Conference. The Cavaliers had easily reached the NBA Finals for four consecutive seasons and won their first NBA championship title. Now that James is gone, the Cavaliers are expected to turn into a mediocre team once again.

After LeBron James signed with the Los Angeles Lakers, three NBA teams emerged as the top favorites to become the new ruler of the Eastern Conference in the upcoming 2018-19 NBA season. These include the Boston Celtics, Philadelphia 76ers, and the Toronto Raptors. However, despite the departure of the best basketball player on the planet, veteran center Tristan Thompson believes that the Cavaliers shouldn’t be underestimated, reminding the Celtics, Sixers, and the Raptors that they are still the four-time Eastern Conference champions.

“We’re still four-time Eastern Conference champions, so until you take us down from that, teams ain’t got much to say. Boston, Philly, they ain’t got much to say,” Thompson told reporters on Thursday, via ESPN. “Boston had homecourt Game 7 and lost. Philly, you guys almost got swept. Toronto — we already know that story. So until someone takes us down, there’s not much they can really say.”

It’s not a surprise why the Celtics, Sixers, and the Raptors are the three teams expected to compete for the Eastern Conference supremacy. Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward are set to rejoin the Celtics, while Sixers’ rising superstars Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid continue to show massive improvements in their game. Meanwhile, the Raptors made a huge improvement on their roster after trading a package centered on DeMar DeRozan to the San Antonio Spurs for Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green.

When LeBron James left in free agency, the Cavaliers made it clear that they have no intention of undergoing a full-scale rebuild. Their decision to give Kevin Love a massive contract extension showed that they are still aiming to defend their title as Eastern Conference champions next season. However, despite having Love on their roster, the Cavaliers are no longer considered as a serious threat in the Eastern Conference.

Cavaliers’ fans will surely love to hear Tristan Thompson’s statement, but the veteran center should know how to put his words into action. Most of the Cavaliers’ veterans, including Thompson, were huge disappointments last season. In the 52 games he played, the 27-year-old big man only averaged 5.8 points and 6.6 rebounds on 56.2 percent shooting from the field. Without James, the Cavaliers not only need Kevin Love to unleash the “Minnesota Love,” but they also need major contributions from their other players like Thompson, J.R. Smith, Rodney Hood, Larry Nance Jr., Jordan Clarkson, and Collin Sexton.