Regardless of what contract Tristan Thompson eventually signs, he’s going to play for one more season with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Beyond that? Hard to say, but right now it’s not looking for the long term relationship.
The LeBron James preseason camp (voluntary, but you better not say no) will include the team’s franchise player himself, along with Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love, Iman Shumpert, J.R. Smith, James Jones, Mo Williams, Richard Jefferson, Anderson Varejao, Joe Harris and Sasha Kaun; pretty much the whole team. Thompson? He’s not going to show up.
The Cavaliers have committed more than $200 million in contract renewals an extensions this offseason. Thompson expects to be part of the big payday, but his (and his agent’s) views on what’s right and what he deserves are drastically different than those of the Cavaliers, at least for him. Rich Paul claims there are a number of teams willing to give Thompson a max-contract next season if he becomes a free agent but surprisingly, those teams didn’t line up to offer him something like that this summer.
Thompson is a restricted free agent, and if he doesn’t sign a long-term deal, he’ll sign a qualifying offer, which means he becomes a free agent in 2016, when the big salary cap raise comes along. Obviously, re-signing on a max deal with the Cavaliers is worth more than with other teams, but Thompson is said to be definitely going somewhere else if he doesn’t get the long term deal he’s looking for, which is a five year contract worth $94 million.
The Cavaliers are looking more towards the $80 million, five-year scenario, maybe slightly less. Thompson saw so many max contracts behind handed out this summer and thinks he should be part of the celebration, but he might be disappointed to learn no one is going to be handing out $25 million per season deals for him in 12 months. Thompson is a good player – a fantastic offensive rebounder and someone you can plug at both the ‘4’ and the ‘5’.
But he’s an awful shooter, good defender but nothing special, and overall is a very limited player, successful in certain timeframes and roles. When a team spends a huge portion of its salary cap on one player, it needs to be someone who can do a little bit more than just one thing, and that one thing isn’t usually the quality teams are looking for from their star players.