It’s long been a foregone conclusion that Tristan Thompson will play for the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2015-16. As his offseason nears a close without a long-term contract in place, though, the restricted free agent may choose to take the path less traveled.
According to Michael Grange of Rogers Sportsnet, Thompson will sign a one-year qualifying offer from Cleveland if he doesn’t receive the deal he seeks – and then leave the team in free agency next summer.
It was reported on the first day of free agency that Thompson had agreed to a multi-year deal with the Cavaliers approaching the maximum amount allowable. However, the moratorium on league business came and went the following week without the 24-year-old putting pen to paper. Despite that obvious impasse in discussions, all momentum in the interim suggested a contract between the sides remained imminent.
Conventional wisdom, though, was that Thompson would sign a contract worth four or five years before next season. Does that remain the most likely scenario? Perhaps. Agent Rich Paul could simply be floating this information as means of scaring Cleveland into upping its approximate offer of $80 million over five seasons. This type of misinformation always rules the day during free agency, but especially as restricted free agent negotiations drag into August.
Other factors to keep in mind: Not only LeBron James’ affinity for Thompson, but his relationship with Paul, too. The Canadian big man is represented by Klutch Sports, the management group James co-founded with Paul – a close friend of many years who’s since become the four-time MVP’s agent. James is under contract for next season, but the last thing the Cavaliers want is locker room disharmony as they embark on the quest for a championship.
Despite Paul’s posturing, nothing major has changed with regard to Thompson’s status. Cleveland will either raise its offer or risk the prospect of a key contributor growing disenchanted. The only difference? That Thompson will supposedly walk away from the Cavaliers next summer if he doesn’t get the contract he wants.
We’ll keep you updated on this situation as news develops.
[Via Michael Grange]