NBA Rumor: Tristan Thompson Free Agency

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The Cavs must determine where negotiations stand with unrestricted free agent Tristan Thompson. The Cavs want him back — at the right price. But according to sources, early discussions have centered on a number lower than Thompson would want. That may be his reality this offseason. Money or contender? It’s tough to see a scenario where Thompson gets both because Miami is the lone playoff team with cap space and over-the-cap organizations are expected to be judicious with their mid-level exceptions.

The Cleveland Cavaliers are rumored to have made an offer to free agent Tristan Thompson, but the organization didn’t meet 2016 champion’s price. The number was just below what Thompson was looking for, according to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst. The longtime basketball scribe appeared on WKNR’s Really Big Show Oct. 29 (subscription). He didn’t give a number and was hesitant to call this “news,” because players aren’t aloud to sign right now, so he went politician with his words. “I am confident that Tristan Thompson has the framework that he can return to the Cavs, but as of right now, that framework isn’t at the level of compensation that he wants it.”

Cavaliers interested in re-signing Tristan Thompson

“I think it’s fair to say there’s mutual interest for sure,” general manager Koby Altman said about the possibility of re-signing Thompson. “He’s been with this franchise his entire career since we drafted him. He’s won a championship here. Obviously, he means a lot to the players on the team right now, but it has to make sense. There are some events coming up — the draft, free agency — where we have to see if it makes sense for him. He’s earned the right to be an unrestricted free agent and explore opportunities at this point in his career. So, we’ll see.”

Cavs keeping Tristan Thompson?

Over the last few months, the Cavs odds of keeping Thompson have increased — even if slightly. They also own his Bird rights, allowing them to pay a tick more than the mid-level while also staying out of the tax. That would seem to satisfy both sides. “I believe there’s a chance of him re-signing in free agency,” a league source close to Thompson said. “He hasn’t necessarily played his final game there.”

Cavaliers keeping Tristan Thompson?

“He’s just so valuable for this team and this organization. I really hope that he’s back.” Love isn’t the only one. Multiple sources tell cleveland.com the Cavs want Thompson to stay. The front office discussed an extension with his camp earlier this season. While those talks quickly broke down and the Cavs eventually traded for two-time All-Star center Andre Drummond, the Cavs plan to at least try to re-sign Thompson this offseason — even if it’s a one-year, mutually-beneficial deal that allows him to hit free agency in the summer of 2021, where more teams will have cap space and the impact of COVID-19 may soften.

After all, given what he’s already accomplished during his career and how he played in 57 games this season, would coming off the bench and possibly playing fewer minutes than usual really be that appealing? The draft, which is scheduled for Oct. 15, three days before free agency, could add another wrinkle to this, especially if the Cavs take Memphis big man James Wiseman or USC’s Onyeka Okongwu. “It’s 50-50,” a source said when asked about the chances of Thompson returning to Cleveland.

At that time, March 8, the 7:29 mark of the second quarter, few gave the moment any real thought. Why would they? Thompson suffered an eye abrasion, which would heal in a couple of days. He’d be back in the lineup in the near future. With 18 games left, there was plenty of time for the Cavs to play spoiler and, more importantly, let Thompson soak up what could be his last moments in Cleveland — even if subconsciously. Now, with the league debating whether to restart the season or end it early, it’s fair to wonder: Was that the last time Thompson walks off the floor as a Cavalier?

For all those reasons, combined with midseason extension talks that went nowhere, the most likely scenario is Thompson leaving. “No one is thinking about free agency, they’re thinking about how we’re going to get some games going,” Thompson said. “In terms of free agency stuff, I let Rich Paul handle that. He’s the best in the game. Keep the main focus the main focus and that’s staying ready to play some basketball, whenever that may be. In terms of free agency and whether guys are going to take one-year deals, the cap situation, guys are going to do what’s best for them and their family. My approach right now is just enjoy family time and stay basketball ready.”

Thompson is nearing the end of his five-year, $82 million deal, and can become a free agent after this season — if there is any more to this season to be played. In terms of his future on the court, he hasn’t thought that far ahead while spending time with his family and kids. “No, it hasn’t crossed my mind at all,” Thompson said. “They told us the season is postponed until further notice. My whole focus was just, how can I make sure my mom, brother and my family and everyone’s going to be safe during this time? That’s the scariest part.”

The Cavs like Thompson. They were discussing a contract extension earlier this season. They recognize the unquantifiable value. Since trading for Drummond, forcing Thompson into a changed role, he never complained. Thompson even welcomed the newbie into his post-practice shooting group while spending time with him off the floor. The Cavs couldn’t ask for a better pro as they hope to fix their cracked culture. So, yes, they would want Thompson back on a team-friendly deal — even if Drummond opts in. But there are a few more layers here.

The Cavs like Thompson. They were discussing a contract extension earlier this season. They recognize the unquantifiable value. Since trading for Drummond, forcing Thompson into a changed role, he never complained. Thompson even welcomed the newbie into his post-practice shooting group while spending time with him off the floor. The Cavs couldn’t ask for a better pro as they hope to fix their cracked culture. So, yes, they would want Thompson back on a team-friendly deal — even if Drummond opts in. But there are a few more layers here.

Chris Fedor: The information that I was getting at the time ofthe trade deadline is the minute the Cavs traded for Andre Drummond, the likelihood of anything happening with Tristan Thompson was very, very small in terms of re-signing him. And I think if the Cavs would have been more comfortable with where the contract extension negotiations with Tristan were, and if they would have been more comfortable with the chances of bringing him back this upcoming offseason… I mean, they probably still make the trade for Andre Drummond. But I don’t know if they would have been hunting rim protectors the way that they were.

Cavaliers keeping Tristan Thompson?

Cleveland, sources say, still has an interest in re-signing him, but is hesitant to give him a second massive deal in the range of his first one that paid him $82 million over five years. This is the last year of that pact. Thompson’s camp wants him traded — in part because the team that adds him also gets “Bird” rights, which could lead to a more lucrative contract this summer. The team with his Bird rights can go over the cap to re-sign him, so a trade now doesn’t have to be a rental.

Thompson is the piece the Cavs would most want to retain beyond this season. The organization loves him. Sources say they would be interested in making him part of this growing core. Thompson’s a great leader and role model for the young guys, someone who embodies what it means to be a Cavalier. Both Kevin Porter Jr. and Darius Garland have said they have no clue where the team would be in the first month-plus without Thompson and Kevin Love.

According to sources, there haven’t been any real conversations between Cleveland’s front office and Thompson’s camp about a contract extension — the other option in this debate. The current belief is Thompson’s camp wouldn’t want to commit right now, months from Thompson hitting free agency. You can understand why, especially given how he’s playing. That shouldn’t be taken as a sign that the Cavs — nor Thompson — are actually interested in continuing this partnership that began in 2011, making him and assistant general manager Mike Gansey the longest-tenured Cavs.

Is Thompson worth the money? He’s worth whatever his agents could negotiate. “I think for me, the fans and everyone understand everything is about business,” Thompson told Northeast Ohio Media Group in an exclusive interview. “Basketball is definitely basketball and that’s what we love to play, but in the NBA, there’s a business side of it. It’s a very serious matter and it’s important. It’s important to me, it’s important to my family. The way we approached it, I think it was excellent.”

What are Tristan Thompson’s options at this point? What do you see as the likely conclusion? Larry Coon: One assumption I think we’re safe making is that if there was a big offer sheet waiting for him, he would have signed it by now. The Cavs were under no obligation to leave their $80 million offer on the table, and from what I heard, pulled it as soon as Thompson’s qualifying offer expired. I heard it was Mark Termini doing the actual negotiating, and he has a reputation for taking a really hard stance in negotiations, but I think he seriously miscalculated this one. Maybe he was thinking LeBron would be more of an influence on the team.

No deal in sight for Tristan Thompson

Tristan Thompson remains a hold out as he and the Cleveland Cavaliers are in a stalemate with his restricted free agency. Thompson decided not to sign the Cavaliers’ qualifying offer and he’s been unable to agree upon terms on a multi-year deal. “I think it will take a third party event to bridge the gap here,” said Windhorst on Zach Lowe’s podcast. “I actually believe it will probably go months,” said Windhorst. “This will go well into the regular season.”

LeBron James said friend and teammate Tristan Thompson’s contract holdout is a “distraction” and he’s calling for it all to end, but the Cavaliers’ superstar also insisted he wasn’t trying to apply pressure to the front office to accept Thompson’s demands. “That is not what I’m saying. Like I said, I believe both sides will get something done. Throughout the negotiation process, it’s always both sides. It’s not just one sided,” James said Sunday after Cavs’ practice, the seventh Thompson has missed this season. ”

If you are not going to be present for training camp, you are not going to be weighing on our minds. “Right now, my thoughts are just about the guys that are here and how hard and how well they are working and no specific expectation otherwise,” said Cavs coach David Blatt when asked for his reaction to Thompson letting the Cavs’ one-year, $6.8 million qualifying offer for this season expire at 11:59 p.m. ET on Thursday without accepting it. “Just happy to see our guys working as well as they are.”

Cavs general manager David Griffin said he expects Tristan Thompson to be on the practice floor Friday, although he declined to speculate under what type of contract. Thompson is facing an 11:59 p.m. deadline Thursday night to accept the Cavs’ qualifying offer worth about $7 million or reject it and continue negotiations, at which point he would be considered a holdout. The team had the right to extend the Oct. 1 deadline for Thompson to sign the qualifying offer, but declined to do so. “We fully expect (Friday) he’ll be here in some form or fashion and we’re excited to get going,” Griffin told NBA TV during a live broadcast of Thursday’s Cavs practice. “We’re hopeful that he wants to move forward with his teammates in the same way we want to have Tristan here. If we can come to some agreement we will.”

Cavs coach David Blatt said Thompson’s missing practice wasn’t “too, too much (of a concern) right now,” and “obviously we hope to see him as soon as possible. “But as I know Tristan, he’s maintaining great condition and he will hopefully be with us as soon as possible,” Blatt said. “For a coach it’s every day (wanting Thompson back). I’d rather not think about the bad end of the expectation. I’m just hoping to see him here sooner than later.”
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