The Cleveland Cavaliers have been widely viewed as one of the most successful teams this offseason for obvious reasons. They’re bringing back basically the entire team that made a run to the NBA Finals even with injuries to Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving.
One player that isn’t officially back yet is Tristan Thompson, who just so happens to be important to the Cavs for enormous reasons besides just basketball.
Thompson bet on himself by reportedly declining a four-year/$52 million deal last offseason. He clearly won that bet, but so far has failed to cash in on it due to his restricted free agent status. There were rumors that Thompson and the Cavs were close to agreeing to a five-year deal in the neighborhood of $80 million, but that has since fallen through because Thompson reportedly wants a max deal.
The results of this predicament likely mean the two sides will agree on a one-year qualifying offer that would be worth roughly $6.8 million, and then part ways.
“All I know is TT on Qualifying Offer will be his last year with the Cavs” — Rich Paul on Tristan Thompson negotiations.— Michael Grange (@michaelgrange) August 10, 2015
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
Firstly, in terms of making the right basketball decision, Kevin Love is very talented, but with the roster Cleveland has, Thompson is the better fit. I’ve been on that boat for a while, and even wrote about it before the NBA Finals got under way.
No need to repeat all that, because there’s a much bigger reason the Cavs should want to keep TT happy: LeBron James.
LeBron, who shares an agent with Thompson, wants to see his guy back in Cleveland … and not just for next season. If you remember back to the start of free agency, LeBron wasn’t even supposed to re-sign until Thompson’s deal got done.
To that end, James doesn’t plan to start talks with Cavs until Tristan Thompson’s deal is settled. Currently those talks are stalled. — Brian Windhorst (@WindhorstESPN) July 4, 2015
Obviously, something changed. LeBron inked with the Cavs about a week later.
That doesn’t change what he said about his hopes for Thompson back on May 25.
“Tristan should probably be a Cavalier for his whole career. There’s no reason why he shouldn’t. This guy is 24 years old. He’s played in 340‑plus straight games, and he’s gotten better every single season. It’s almost like, ‘What more can you ask out of a guy?’ He’s a young guy, but he’s a professional that loves to come to work every day. He plays his heart out every single night, and he has zero sense of entitlement in this league. All he cares about is coming into work. Whatever is given to him, he relishes the opportunity, and he’s a great teammate. So he’ll be here for a long time.”
You sure, LeBron?
My advice to the Cavs in this situation is simple. Just because Thompson is a restricted free agent, King James always holds all the cards in this game. LeBron’s contract is set up that he can get out of it any summer he wants. So do what the guy tells you to do.
It would be a shame to lose Thompson in 2016 … it would be a tragedy if it also costs you LeBron … again.
Find me on Twitter @julianedlow