Rookie Tristan Thompson has played two games as the Cavaliers’ starting center. Veteran Ryan Hollins has played his last for the team.
A day after the 21-year-old Thompson put up 27 points and 12 rebounds to lead them to a 105-100 win in New Jersey, the Cavs on Tuesday waived Hollins.
The object of many fans’ wrath for his inability to consistently catch the basketball and finish plays at the rim, Hollins is on the books for $2.48 million this season, but was slated to be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season and wasn’t in the Cavs’ plans.
The 7-foot, 240-pounder may well catch on with another team because so many clubs are looking for size and length, but the 27-year-old failed to capitalize on numerous chances in Cleveland.
Hollins averaged 3.7 points and 2.3 rebounds in 15.1 minutes this season, when there were brief flashes of solid play and long stretches of virtually nothing. The UCLA product appeared in just 24 games, with seven starts.
Hollins, a sixth-year pro who has also played for Charlotte, Dallas and Minnesota, has career averages of 4.2 points and 2.3 rebounds in 13.2 minutes.
Cleveland’s roster stands at 14, so the Cavs could add another player in the coming days.
What won’t change anytime soon is Thompson being a key part of the team, as the 6-9, 227-pounder was sensational Monday against the Nets in just the second start of his career.
Thompson, who made 12 of 16 field goals, gave the Cavs the lead for good with a tip-in with 1:11 to go.
“I was just being active,” Thompson said. “That’s what I am here to do. That’s why I’m on the court — to get second possessions. I got up high enough where I could tip it in. That was big for us.”
The rookie’s next task is to produce every night. He had just seven points and six rebounds Sunday in his first start as Cleveland fell 103-87 to Atlanta, including zero points in the first half.
The Cavs play the Hawks again tonight in Atlanta, so Thompson will get another shot at Zaza Pachulia, who had 12 points and nine boards Sunday while outplaying the Texas product.
“The key is to just keep playing hard,” Thompson said. “Some nights you’ve got to get up for it, but this is our job. First and foremost, I love playing basketball. That’s enough motivation right there.
“I’m definitely going to have a chip on my shoulder. Pachulia played a helluva game. I’m going to come out and play hard.”
Six of Thompson’s field goals against the Nets came on dunks, most off pick-and-roll plays with fellow rookie Kyrie Irving.
“He played really well (Monday),” said Irving, who will turn 20 on Friday. “Hopefully, he’ll have a lot more nights like this and contribute as well as he did (Monday). He played really big for us, especially down the stretch.”
Contact Rick Noland at (330) 721-4061 or firstname.lastname@example.org.