Report: Cavaliers told Larry Nance Jr., who’ll be extension-eligible, they view him as ‘foundational piece’

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LeBron James was the only Cleveland player to start all the Cavaliers’ playoff games this year.

The only other team with just one player to start all its postseason games since 1986, as far back as Basketball-Reference playoff-start data goes, was the 2016 Warriors. Only Klay Thompson started all Golden State’s playoff games that year.

To be fair, Kevin Love started all his postseason games for the Cavs this year. He missed one completely due to a concussion. Otherwise, he was clearly a starter.

But the Cavaliers spent a lot of time bemoaning a fallen-through offseason trade that would’ve jettisoned Love. And, of course, LeBron is a flight risk.

Beyond those stars, Cleveland has been in even more flux, forced to shuffle an unreliable deck.

Perhaps, the Cavs believe in at least one of those supporting players, though – Larry Nance Jr., who’ll be eligible for a rookie-scale contract extension this offseason.

Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com:

Multiple league sources told cleveland.com there is “a ton” of interest on both sides to discuss an extension for Nance

The Cavs have expressed to Nance that they view him as a foundational piece, sources said.

Acquired from the Lakers midseason, Nance brought a feel-good story to Cleveland. The Cavaliers retired his father’s number, and the younger Nance grew up in the area. He seemed genuinely happy to play for the Cavs.

Nance is a solid player. He finishes above the rim, plays hard and has a nose for the ball.

But he’s also somewhat redundant with Tristan Thompson, who’s under contract two more years. Thompson looked a little sharper late in the season and probably isn’t as washed-up as he looked most of the year. Especially if Love starts at center, there might not be room for both Nance and Love in the rotation.

Hovering over everything in Cleveland is LeBron. If he stays, the Cavaliers should stay in win-now mode. If he leaves, they’ll likely try to escape the luxury tax.

Nance, 25, could fit either direction – which speaks to why the Cavs are so high on him. What kind of contract extension can he leverage that into? The picture will become clearer once LeBron decides his future.