Tristan Thompson and the Cleveland Cavaliers remain in a stalemate over the forward’s desired contract extension. After reportedly turning down a five-year, $80 million extension, the forward (or rather, his agent, Rich Paul), is threatening to take the one-year qualifying offer and then sign with a new team next season. As Michael Scotto of SheridanHoops reports, that new team could be Thompson’s hometown Toronto Raptors, which isn’t much of a surprise if you’re a hoops fan.
Several league executives believe Canadian Tristan Thompson may head north to Toronto in the summer of 2016 if he signs his one-year, $6.8 million qualifying offer with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
“I always thought he was going to end up (in Toronto) this year,” one Eastern Conference general manager told SheridanHoops. “There’s going to be so much money next year so I think he will get it.”
Neither Thompson’s departure nor his signing with the Raptors are sure things. Thompson has the backing of LeBron James (also represented by Rich Paul), who earlier this summer said retaining Thompson was the team’s top priority. Not bringing back Thompson would irk James, though likely not enough that he’d sign elsewhere when he opts out of his deal next summer. As far as Toronto is concerned, they already have a lot of money tied up, even with the new, larger salary cap. DeMar DeRozan can also opt out of his deal next summer, and if the Raptors want to re-sign him, he’ll likely demand a lucrative deal, one that could prevent the Raptors from adding Thompson.
This is a very real possibility, though, one which Paul is using to his advantage in his negotiations with the Cavaliers. Yet Paul has to be careful, as he and Thompson might be overestimating their leverage. While the Cavaliers want Thompson back, and know LeBron wants him back, that doesn’t mean they’re going to break the bank for him, even with the looming threat of Thompson’s departure. With Kevin Love healthy, there’s little incentive for them to throw a max contract at a back-up big man. His playoff performance was inspired, and a big reason why the Cavaliers made it to the NBA Finals, but many teams have made the mistake of giving players enormous extensions based off one or two playoff series, and the Cavaliers don’t want to join that list.