CLEVELAND -- The Cleveland Cavaliers’ reign atop the NBA lasted less than one year, as they were dispatched by the Golden State Warriors in the 2017 NBA Finals in just five games one year after upsetting the Warriors in a seven-game series to win their first-ever championship.
All throughout the offseason, that five-game series against the Warriors did not sit well with the Cavaliers, the three-time defending Central Division and Eastern Conference champions, and still serves as motivation for the team at the start of training camp.
“I was definitely angry,” Cavaliers center Tristan Thompson said. “You never want to get a ‘gentleman’s sweep,’ losing 4-1. Guys are motivated and hungry. I think guys have that burning desire to get back on the court and take back what we feel is ours.”
Throughout the offseason, the Cavaliers reshaped and rebuilt a roster that made three straight trips to the NBA Finals together.
Fulfilling a trade request, the Cavaliers dealt All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving to the Boston Celtics in exchange for guard Isaiah Thomas, forward Jae Crowder, center Ante Zizic, and two draft picks, including an unprotected first-round choice in 2018.
Additionally, the Cavaliers re-signed shooting guard Kyle Korver, signed point guards Derrick Rose and Jose Calderon, and then, added 12-time NBA All-Star Dwyane Wade, who was bought out by the Chicago Bulls over the weekend.
Himself the subject of trade rumors in the summer involving the New York Knicks and Carmelo Anthony, Thompson is ready to get back to work with the Cavaliers.
“I’m glad I’m still here, I want to be part of a winning culture,” Thompson said. “I’m just worried about doing my job, producing and playing.
“Anyone can make a phone call. I’m pretty sure when the top players in the NBA are free agents, everybody calls his agent and says, ‘Hey, how’s that guy doing?’ Then, a story comes out, ‘Hey, someone’s interested in a guy.’ The Knicks are going to make their calls and whatever, so I guess my value’s pretty up there I could say. Carmelo Anthony? Not bad, but I’m glad to be here. I love this group.”
And as for that anger over the end of the NBA Finals, Thompson is ready to put it to good use with his teammates.
“I’m always going to have it, always going to have it,” Thompson said. “Obviously, you’ve got to let things go, but you never forget, right? You move on in life, but you never forget. That’s what keeps the motivation and the hunger going. We want to get back up there, play in June, and hopefully, have a different result this time.”