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Write Down Euclid: You Don’t Know What You’ve Got Til It’s Gone

After the trades to acquire Shumpert, Mozgov, and Smith, the team had a whole different chemistry and went on to dominate the rest of the season. Love played better, but still not quite up to the level of a superstar like fans expected.

If you compare Love’s numbers to Chris Bosh in the four years LeBron was in Miami, they’re almost identical. Bosh’s best statistical season of that four-year run was 2010-2011, when he averaged 19 points and 8 rebounds per game.

We will never know how different the picture would look if the Cavaliers held on to number one overall draft pick Wiggins and not acquired Love, but many fans and some analysts will argue that the trade was a bad move in hindsight.

What we do know is that when Love was injured and ruled to be out for the remainder of the postseason, the same Cavs fans that were criticizing his lack of production all season long were in for a rude awakening on what his absence to the team meant.

The Cavs were fortunate to have a great backup power forward, Thompson, who could play starters’ minutes and keep the team above water.

I fear that the same fans who didn’t appreciate Love when he was healthy are now forgetting just how valuable Thompson is to this team. It seems to be a classic case of not knowing what you’ve got til it’s gone.

One of the reasons why I believe Thompson is holding out is because he knows that General Manager David Griffin knows what he has if Thompson is gone. He has Love, an injury-prone starting power forward, and Andy Varejao, an injury-prone backup center/power forward.

This is the leverage Thompson has over the Cavaliers front office.

It doesn’t excuse Thompson over-valuing himself, but it does give him more reason to try to squeeze every dollar he can out of Dan Gilbert.

We can accuse players of being greedy, but at the end of the day it’s a business like any other and owners view players as little more than dollar signs in the grand scheme of things, too. Everyone is trying to do what makes the most sense from a business standpoint.

From a basketball standpoint, Thompson contributes more to this team than just a “backup” power forward.

What Thompson offers the Cavs is not only the ability to fill in and start when needed and give Love a breather, but he also played all of the 2014-2015 season in crucial fourth quarter situations while Love, for the most part, was on the bench.

Thompson doesn’t just provide rest for Love, but also is vital in making the entire second unit stronger, and by doing so will allow LeBron to play less minutes.

We all can agree LeBron has a ton of miles on his tires, and managing his minutes will be an area of concern this season and beyond. When Tristan is on the floor with the second unit, it makes the whole unit play better.

For example, let’s say the Cavs have a 15-point lead heading into the fourth quarter.

Coach David Blatt decides the lead is large enough to take LeBron out and let the second unit finish the game.

When Thompson is on the floor, the odds of holding on to that lead and comfortably closing the game out with a convincing win are much better than if the Cavaliers were to rely on Anderson Varejao and Sasha Kaun.

Hypothetically, if Thompson walks, like many Cavs fans seem to be more than willing to see happen, and the backup power forward becomes Varejao, how confident are we that the 15-point lead does not evaporate into a 5-point lead? And then LeBron has to come back on the floor and play more minutes that he otherwise would not be needed with a stronger second unit.

The Cavaliers bench is still not as deep as many teams in the league, and although they made some upgrades this offseason, losing Thompson would make the bench weaker than it was even at the start of last season. Blatt knows this. Griffin knows this. LeBron knows this.

That is why LeBron wants the Cavaliers and Thompson to reach an agreement.

It looks like both sides have some major concessions to make, but if I know one thing about the Cavaliers it’s that if LeBron wants something done, you should probably do it.

The single reason most people in Northeast Ohio even care about the Cavs again is because number 23 is back, and we should all keep that in mind when any player personnel moves are made.

While Thompson may be unrealistic in his contract demands, fans are unrealistic to believe that Thompson is just a typical backup, and I just hope the Cavs faithful don’t have to learn the hard way, you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone.

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Matt Medley is co-editor at NEO Sports Insiders, covers the Cleveland Cavaliers, Cleveland Indians and high school sports in Northeast Ohio. Follow @MedleyHoops on Twitter for live updates from games.

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