The long contract saga between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Tristan Thompson is over, with the player and team signing a deal that’s a lot closer to what was initially proposed by the Cavs.
Thompson signed a five-year, $82 million contract, which is far away from the max ($94 million) he was looking for or the max next season, which Rich Paul kept talking about as a failed bargaining chip. Even the $53 million over three years that the Thompson team proposed was declined. While he’s an important player, he’s not that good. At some point, both Paul and Thompson realized their max-contract venture wasn’t going to happen.
Thompson has been in the league since 2011, averaging 10.1 points and 8.4 rebounds in his career. Last season, coming off the bench most of the time, his numbers dropped to 8.5 points and 8 rebounds per game with significant less playing time. In the playoffs his role expanded thanks to the Kevin Love injury, averaging 9.6 points and 10.4 rebounds, including 4.4 on the offensive glass.
His age (only 24) and his offensive rebounding is what got him this deal. Thompson has no range, misses a lot of shots near the rim and isn’t too special of a defender. And yet, with all these flaws, he’s going to make $16.4 million a season on average, making him the sixth-highest-paid power forward in the NBA and equal to what Draymond Green got from the Golden State Warriors. Thompson’s contract is fully guaranteed, without any player or team options.
The Cavs retained all seven players who hit free agency this summer: LeBron James, Kevin Love, Iman Shumpert, J.R. Smith, Matthew Dellavedova, Timofey Mozgov and Thompson. It helps them lock up a young core of Love, Kyrie Irving (signed in 2014) and Thompson for the foreseeable future, but also means a huge luxury tax bill, the second highest in NBA history. Including salaries and tax, the Cavs will spend over $170 million on their roster. The Brooklyn Nets spent $197 million in 2013-2014 (reached the conference semifinal), including $90.5 million in tax.