LeBron James is pretty happy with the moves the Cleveland Cavaliers’ front office made this summer, when they re-signed both Kevin Love and Matthew Dellavedova, as well as bringing in Mo Williams and Richard Jefferson on cheap deals to fill out the roster. However, James won’t be fully satisfied until the Cavs re-sign Tristan Thompson. In an interview with ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, James praised the front office’s moves while stressing the need to bring Thompson back into the fold.
“Our No. 1 objective right now is to sign Tristan,” James said Thursday at Cedar Point amusement park. “He’s a huge part of our team. Short term and long term he makes our team more dangerous.”
Remember, the original thinking was James wouldn’t re-sign with the Cavaliers until everyone he wanted back had been taken care of. That turned out not to be the case, as the King signed his expected “1-plus-1” deal in July. Now, the Cavaliers have this tricky situation on their hands. The threat from Thompson’s camp is that he’ll take the one-year qualifying offer and then bolt next summer during free agency. Needless to say, that wouldn’t make James too happy. It’s hard to imagine James leaving after he opts out next year just because the Cavs couldn’t re-sign Thompson, but the mere threat exists, and that’s enough to scare the Cavaliers.
Thompson’s seeking the max, but the Cavaliers are reluctant to give it to him – understandably so. While the Canadian power forward is talented, and max money won’t mean as much when the salary cap explodes, this is still a player who averaged 8.5 points and eight rebounds per game this season. Also, max money now might not be max money next summer, but it’ll still be a lot more in luxury taxes since they’re already well above the line.
Granted, Thompson played a pivotal role in the Cavaliers’ run to the Finals and upped his averages to nearly a double-double, but one solid postseason should not amount to a max contract offer. He’ll also be playing behind Kevin Love, just as he did during the regular season, and it’s tough to commit max money to two players who play the same position, no matter how beloved one is by James.