LeBron James attended his annual LeBron James Family Foundation event in Akron, Ohio today, where he made a few very important announcements.
The first was about the kids in his ‘I Promise’ program who will get full college scholarships if they complete it with good test scores, attendance, and community service. This is big for the 200+ seventh graders who will be graduating in six years if they meet all of their requirements.
The second was about the Cavs most important free agent, Tristan Thompson.
LeBron James staying clear from meddling in negotiations but said 'That's our No.1 objective, to sign Tristan. He's a huge part of our team'
— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) August 13, 2015
“Short-term and long term he makes our team more dangerous,” James said of Thompson. “Things need to be worked out from his side and the Cavs but we need him back. He’s an important resource.
“The front office has done a great job. The next step is to get Tristan done.”
RELATED: 5 Reasons Why The Cavs Should Keep Their Core.
After weeks of deliberation, Cleveland offered Thompson significantly less than what he was asking for, and on Tuesday, Thompson’s agent Rich Paul notified the Cavs of Thompson’s intentions if a one-year, qualifying offer is signed. Sam Amico of Fox Sports and Chris Haynes of NEOMG reported it first via Twitter.
Tristan Thompson's agent, Rich Paul, tells @Sportsnet TT may sign 1yr Qualifying offer with Cavs. If so, it "will be his last year" w team.
— Sam Amico (@AmicoHoops) August 10, 2015
Paul and Thompson have also told the Cavs that they want a 5-year deal worth $94 million from the Cavs, which is the max for a player like Thompson. As it is, Portland is the only team that can offer Thompson a contract of that caliber, but they are already stacked in the frontcourt with players like Mason Plumlee, Ed Davis, Noah Vonleh, Joel Freeland, Meyers Leonard, and Al-Farouq Aminu. Clearly, the only team in the market for Thompson is the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Even clearer, fans and management don’t value Thompson as an $18.8 million per year player. Those numbers that Thompson is requesting is higher than James Harden’s 5-year, $78 million contract, Stephen Curry’s 4-year, $44 million contract, and is equal to Blake Griffin’s 5-year $94 million contract. All of those players have been in the top three of the MVP voting and have been in multiple All-Star games in their short careers. Thompson is yet to even win a Sixth Man award and hasn’t made any All-NBA teams in his four year career.
A general manager spoke with Brian Windhorst and reportedly told him that Thompson could command a lot of money on the open market next offseason as an unrestricted free agent.
“The 2016 free agent class isn’t very deep and it’s generally older,” said one NBA general manager. “It’s rare to see an unrestricted free agent that’s 25 or younger, especially a big. If Thompson were to be an unrestricted free agent next summer and he’s healthy, he probably would be one of the top free agents available.”
RELATED: Is Tristan Thompson Worth more Than 5-Year, $80 Million?
With the salary cap jumping over $20 million to about $90 million, Thompson could very well get a 5-year deal at $94 million in the offseason of 2016, but that’s only if he is able to stay healthy and not have a huge decline in his performance. There has been no shortage of players who played excellent in their contract years before signing a new deal and underwhelming. The most recent players who didn’t live up to expectations were Lance Stephenson, Spencer Hawes, and Kenneth Faried. Of course, none of them made almost $20 million per year, and the team that does decide to pay Thompson that much would be taking a huge risk on a player who doesn’t even have a polished offensive game.
Because the Cavs are already $4 million over the luxury-tax line, Windhorst estimates that the addition of a maximum contract for Thompson might cost them around $35 million in luxury tax alone.
Stay tuned for the latest on the contract stalemate between Tristan Thompson and the Cleveland Cavaliers.