The Cleveland Cavaliers have been trying to negotiate a contract extension with restricted free agent Tristan Thompson since the calendar flipped over to July. Since then, however, there hasn’t been much success as both sides have repeatedly hit walls in terms of agreeing on a new deal.
The Cavs offered Thompson a 5-year deal worth $80 million that he reportedly agreed up in early July. Once Draymond Green signed his 5-year deal for $85 million, however, Thompson and the Cavs got into another contract stalemate.
After weeks of deliberation, Cleveland offered Thompson significantly less than what he was asking for, and Thompson’s agent Rich Paul has now reportedly notified the Cavs of Thompson’s intentions if a max contract is not 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
Tristan Thompson signing QO w/ #Cavs hasn't been decided yet, I'm told. But if he signs it, told it would be last season he plays as a Cav.
— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) 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.
To clarify earlier tweet: Thompson negotiations are on-going BUT — if he has to settle for QO offer, he will not return to Cavs in 16-17
— Michael Grange (@michaelgrange) August 10, 2015
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.”
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.