LeBron James, Tristan Thompson

The Cleveland Cavaliers want to re-sign Tristan Thompson, but not for the money he’s asking for. The problem in this equation is the presence of LeBron James, a great advocator for bringing him back at any cost, and by way of a few other people, also his agent.

How’s that? Rich Paul is Thompson’s agent. Paul is also a very good friend of James, and his agent. And the two pretty much run Paul’s players agency together, even though LeBron isn’t supposedly involved in any agent-player relationship. But it’s clear that James isn’t just pushing for Thompson to be re-signed since even before the playoffs ended.

Thompson will play for the Cavaliers next season, regardless of what happens in the negotiations. He’s a restricted free agent, which means the Cavaliers can match anything that comes his way, and Thompson isn’t going to be offered the kind of money he’s asking from the Cavaliers. The Portland Trail Blazers and Philadelphia 76ers are the only teams with cap space to accommodate his demands, and they won’t touch that.

And if Thompson doesn’t like what the Cavaliers keep offering him back? He can sign the qualifying offer, which will be $6.8 million for Thompson, turning him into a free agent in 2016. Then he can once again try to get signed for the max offer, which will be around $124 million for five years if he stays in Cleveland although his agent is threatening the Cavaliers that failing to agree on a long term deal now will result in Thompson leaving the Cavs after the season.

Thompson, reportedly, is asking for a $94 million, five-year contract, the max. The Cavaliers aren’t willing to go over $80 million per five season at the moment, although that might be a bit off the true number. Considering how they’ve already spent their money this season: Max re-signing of Kevin Love, keeping Iman Shumpert on a big deal, retaining Timofey Mozgov on the team option and smaller deals to Matthew Dellavedova and James Jones, while in the meantime adding veterans Mo Williams and Richard Jefferson, it’s understandable they don’t want to pay Thompson way above his market value.

The Cavaliers will be paying a lot of luxury tax next season, regardless of how much Thompson ends up getting. J.R. Smith might be re-signed, although James is less pressing about that matter. Truth is that Thompson emerged in the playoffs thanks to Kevin Love getting injured, helping him pick up minutes. Anderson Varejao is also healthy again (if that’s even possible for him), so that means Thompson might not be able to get the minutes and numbers he put up before.

He’s young, but he’s a limited player. A good defender on a number of positions, an excellent offensive rebounder and good shot blocker. That’s about it. Thompson has no range and is a poor foul shooter, and hasn’t shown a whole lot of progress in that field over his years in the league, coming in along with Kyrie Irving in 2011. He’s not worth a max contract, but the right connections are sometimes more important than anything else.

Image: Source