Tristan Thompson isn’t worth the $11 million annual salary he’s supposedly commanding from the Cleveland Cavaliers. But whether it’s before the October 31 deadline for extensions or next summer in restricted free agency, there’s still a good chance the Cavaliers give it to him.
News of Thompson’s desired payment is courtesy of the Akron Beacon Journal’s Jason Lloyd.
What hasn’t been discussed is a contract extension for [Thompson] – at least not yet. The two sides haven’t really discussed numbers, one source involved in the process said recently, but that isn’t a surprise.[Thompson] will ask for the type of money previously given to Derrick Favors (four years, $49 million) and Larry Sanders (four years, $44 million).
Thompson’s case for an extension or restricted free agency contract with Cleveland would be complicated if it was relegated solely to on-court value. He plateaued offensively last season after a highly publicized switch to his shooting hand was supposed to fix his jumper, and simply doesn’t make the transformational impact on the other end of the floor that Favors and Sanders do – let alone could as they continue to progress.
Barring wholesale and completely surprising improvements, Thompson won’t ever be a reliable post scoring hub or stretch big man. He lacks prototype athleticism at power forward and ideal size at center, issues that make him a less threatening ball-screen dive man than it seems he should be. And though Thompson is quick of foot, long-armed, and gives good effort defensively, he hasn’t shown knack of the best pick-and-roll thwarters or undersized rim-protectors. The former attribute, especially, could be gained in time, but it would still remain Thompson’s only top-shelf talent.
Again, he’s simply not worth a contract approaching $50 million. But there’s more to consider here, and it begins with his agent, Rich Paul.
Paul happens to represent childhood friend LeBron James, and it’s become a foregone conclusion that he’ll be rewarded by Cleveland’s front office brass for helping steer The King home. That means the Cavs taking care of Thompson at a number that will attract other players to Paul; basically, one that’s overpriced.
It’s no secret that teams make back-hand deals with agents when superstar players are involved. Dwight Howard’s agent, Dan Fegan, had one with the Houston Rockets concerning fellow client Chandler Parsons that eventually led to the latter’s departure this summer.
That’s not the only factor working in Thompson’s favor. The salary cap is poised to take a huge jump in 2016-2017 given the NBA’s impending new TV deal, and rumors have swirled for months that the league could opt to spread that spike across the next two seasons as opposed to allowing a massive one-year leap.
It’s unknown if that will come to fruition, but players like Thompson stand to benefit either way. If he has a big statistical year mooching off attention paid to James, Kevin Love, and Kyrie Irving, he could get the money he wants right now next summer. But if Cleveland is counting on that development plus a bigger increase to the 2015-2016 cap than the league’s current $66.5 million projection, it could theoretically get Thompson on a discount by extending him before October 31 deadline.
There are even more moving parts here: How David Blatt and company think Thompson fits beside Love is chief among them, and the prospective free agencies of James and Love loom large, too. But Thompson’s representation combined with an uncertain salary cap are what is driving his outlandish request. And unfortunately for the Cavs, it leaves them with no completely right or completely wrong answer.
What do you think?
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