Tristan Thompson hit NBA free agency as one of the best centers available, and he ultimately decided the Boston Celtics were the best fit for him.
“What really attracted me to the Celtics is how young and how talented they are,” Thompson said Thursday in his first press conference since signing a contract with the C’s worth a reported $19 million over two years.
It’s not surprising that Thompson looked at Boston’s young talent and chose to be a part of that group.
Jayson Tatum is coming off his first All-Star season after leading the Celtics in scoring during both the regular season and 2020 playoffs. He’s on the cusp of superstardom. Jaylen Brown is coming off his best NBA season and should be an All-Star in 2020-21. Other young C’s players such as Marcus Smart, who’s still only 26 years old, have proven themselves capable of playing at a high level.
Thompson has been particularly impressed with Tatum, who ascended to NBA stardom last season.
“Since his rookie year, everyone saw the oozing potential and saw this kid has what it takes to be in the MVP conversation.”
Tristan Thompson talks JT 🔥🔥🔥 pic.twitter.com/tvnLR5W7v6
— Celtics on NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSCeltics) December 3, 2020
The hope for the Celtics is their current core is able to achieve what Thompson did with the Cleveland Cavaliers, and that’s win the Larry O’Brien Trophy.
Thompson spent the first nine seasons of his career with the Cavaliers, and alongside teammates such as LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and others, the Cavs went to four NBA Finals from 2014-15 through 2017-18. They won in 2016 after overcoming a 3-1 series deficit to beat the Golden State Warriors in a dramatic Game 7.
The Cavaliers have struggled mightily since James left in the summer of 2018, and after surveying the free agent landscape, Thompson felt the best decision for his career was to join the Celtics.
“Spending the first nine years of my career with the Cleveland Cavaliers, obviously being drafted there at 19 and winning a championship, and having a lot of success but also going through the process of what it takes to get to the mountain top, of course it’s tough,” Thompson said. “But it’s a chapter in life. I think in life, you go through different phases and different chapters like a book. I had an amazing opportunity to play for a franchise for nine years … at the end of the day it’s a business.
“I think this is the best decision for me in my career in the point I’m at to join a team that’s trying to do something special. For me, going to four straight NBA Finals and winning a championship, knowing what the (Celtics) want to achieve and get to the promised land, if I can come here and help be a part of that and get them over the hump that would be an honor.”
Thompson averaged 12 points and 10.1 rebounds per game last season, and his addition to the Celtics roster provides much-needed frontcourt depth, rim protection and championship experience.
The Celtics will open the 2020-21 regular season Dec. 23 against the Milwaukee Bucks at TD Garden.