Cavs sign holdout Thompson, should welcome ‘overpaid’ tag

The Cleveland Cavaliers will know Tristan Thompson‘s new $82 million contract is a success if they hear, non-stop from now through the Finals, that the backup power forward is overpaid.

Maybe not “vastly overpaid” and definitely not “outrageously overpaid.” That would suggest some dramatic under performance from what Thompson has been in his first four NBA seasons. But if Thompson winds up giving the Cavaliers something close to what they’ve been getting from him – 12.7 points and 10.6 rebounds per 36 minutes, at adapting last season to contributing off the bench – and he merely stays tagged as “overpaid,” that will mean mostly good things for Cleveland.

It will mean that Thompson wasn’t pressed into starter’s duty by a debilitating injury again to Kevin Love. It will mean that his playing time didn’t have to jump up to the 39.1 minutes he logged over the Cavs’ final 16 playoff games after Love’s shoulder injury in the first round against Boston. It will mean that Timofey Mozgov, Anderson Varejao and (yikes!) LeBron James likely didn’t miss significant time either to thin the roster’s complement of big men.

The bottom line on Thompson’s new deal – a $2 million bump from what reportedly was discussed with the Cavs at the start of free agency – is that, if it seems a little painful to the organization’s bottom line, a bunch of basketball-related things likely will have gone right.

Here was the initial report on the end of the restricted free agent’s holdout as offered by Cavaliers beat writer Chris Haynes of

The two sides agreed Wednesday to a five-year, $82 million pact, ending a lengthy stalemate that should ensure Thompson’s presence in Northeast Ohio through the deals already in place with Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving and, most likely, LeBron James.

Cleveland will have the highest payroll in NBA history with the signing, opening training camp next week with a commitment this year of approximately $115 million.

The dollar amount may baffle some, but Thompson earned his new contract. He bet on himself at the beginning of the 2014-15 season by turning down a four-year, $52 million extension.

Knowing he was stepping into a season in which he was Kevin Love’s backup, Thompson, advised by his agent Rich Paul, decided he was better off playing his hand at restricted free agency.

Critics mocked him for rebuffing such a lucrative offer, citing his “limited skill set.” Nevertheless, he played on and accepted his new reserve role. He was the league’s leading rebounder off the bench with 8.0 boards a night, while also continuing his streak of not missing a game in his four-year career.

Thompson led the playoffs with 88 offensive rebounds. With Love and Irving sidelined, those extra offensive possessions proved invaluable for a shorthanded Cavalier squad.

His motor on the backboards was a constant irritant to opponents. In the Finals, the Golden State Warriors decided they often had to box him out with two guys.

That helped Thompson’s resume and encouraged him and his agent to wait out the league’s Oct. 1 deadline for signing a deal or playing on a one-year qualifying offer. It seemed likely

Thompson could cash in next summer as an unrestricted free agent, shopping in a market flooded with fatter TV revenues that will send the salary cap soaring again. That would, however, almost certainly mean the end of Thompson’s days in Cleveland.

The Cavaliers will be paying dearly to make another run at the Finals in 2016 and keep the core of this championship contender together well beyond that. In addition to the $115 million payroll cited by Haynes,’s Brian Windhorst reported that Cleveland’s luxury-tax obligation for 2015-16 will approach $65 million. That’s a big check to write for owner Dan Gilbert and a big swallow for general manager David Griffin.

So while this sort of thing is undeniably true…

… there is the concept of insurance, and how the best policies are the ones you never actually cash in.

There’s a saying in the NFL that the most valuable player on the team is the starting quarterback and the second-most valuable player is the backup quarterback. Those guys get paid, too, even though no one really wants to see them prove their value on Sundays – that would mean the starter got hurt or stinks.

That’s how the Cavaliers and their fans need to look at Thompson’s deal now. The more he actually plays up to that $82 million figure, the more likely something else will have gone wrong in their championship plan.


  1. leo says:

    I believe Cav’s give TT his contract base on his performance during the playoff. If you can get double double every night during the season off beach I said he is worth the money. Just look at the states from 2014 – 2015 season only 12 players were able post average of double double, if he can’t I would feel bed for the cav’s because they did what many NBA team did during free agent, a huge contract with a bad player.

    Joakim Noah: 12.7M, 7.24ppg, 9.64rpg, 4.66apg
    Omer Asik: 14.9M, 7.33ppg, 9.84rpg. .95apg
    Andrew Bogut: 12.9M, 6.3ppg, 8.1rpg, 1.69bpg
    Ed Davis: 981K, 8.3ppg, 7.59rpg, 1.19apg

  2. Stopmakingexcuses says:

    According to espn sources, and their sources, and their sources, and their sources. Javale McGee just signed a 5yr 82 million max contract with the……… His shaqtin a fool highlights, rebounding and most importantly put backs, was too much to resist

  3. Marty says:

    When you turn down a qualifying offer and have a good year you get as much $ as you can get. BOTTOM LINE.

  4. Jacolito Magsalsal says:

    Finally!!! Cavs can move on… TT can be more productive… with that amount he must prove it that he worth that much… And lebron loves TiTi so much…. Literally love TiTi….

  5. benjie says:

    I say the miami heat will upset them……..

  6. kenjah says:

    People does Tristan Thompson worth 82 million pay day? YES he worth every penny… The kids plays hard, works hard, not injury prone.. whats the worry? The CAVS traded two number 1 picks for LOVE. He missed the playoff, not his fault. BUT what did Tristan Thompson did? He help bring the CAVS to the finals. Without what he did and how he played the CAVS would not make it to the finals. LeBron was super but TT13 PLAYS help the cavs and thats what he is getting paid for. The CAVS made alot of money in the playoffs and he is cashing in on it. Sometimes we should be happy for the small market guys who get paid. Big names get paid overpaid all the time and no one seems to complain. I say congrats on your new deal, save save save adnd secure your future and your family future.

  7. GetALife says:

    So many haters here. Look guys, the Cavs owner willing to give TT the contract so they must think he worth at least near that price. And screw the people asking the player to take paycut. Professional sportman got a short career, they should earn as much as they can. If they want to take paycut its fine but don’t blame them when they dont. It’s Their Life

  8. Idaho Art says:

    The real issue here does not involve pay at all: is Cleveland significantly better with or without Tristen Thompson? The answer is an obvious “with”. Plus, the Cavs cannot just not sign Thompson and go get another maniac on defense, because they are, even without him, over the cap. This is what gives Thompson that extra value: he is a healthy, dynamic big they could actually sign despite the cap. Cavs will be very good this year. Good enough to win it all? Time will tell.



  10. Lesley P says:

    why do NBA players need this sort of money. $82million over 5 years to come off the bench and grab a rebound every now and then. gee i wish i was 7 foot, easiest couple of million dollars you earn and they want more!!

  11. LJ says:

    Guranteed they will trade him they just didnt want to lose him for nothing

  12. fashoom says:

    The deal won’t look so bad next year when the salary cap increases. Tristan is the Cavs 3rd Big and that’s a key position. Now Varajao can play limited minutes which is key too. They will be back in the Finals and anything can happen in a 7 game series, especially when you have The King.

  13. RBroads says:

    Wow! That’s a five year contract. Too bad LeBron will stay for just one season with the Cavs and off to another team!

  14. freeze3000 says:

    Firstly, TT is not worth this amount to any other team ….. However, if a championship is worth the extra 40 million, the TT is worth it to the Cavs.

    If the Cavs let him walk, they would have needed a strong replacement, one that I just can’t see coming from another team at this point in the year.

    Of course TT is not K.Leonard – but KL is a Spur and they are not about to let him go.

    From a fan stand point, what Rich Paul and TT was bad for the NBA. Look, it’s not like we don’t know egos are a big part of the NBA, but in my case, it’s the straw that broke the camels back – I don’t want to be reminded that so many jerks play in this league – I’ll be watching fewer games in part because I don’t want my kid exposed to this.

    • BSGS says:

      What exactly are you exposing ur kid to on game day? You being really sensitive. The hate is real. I personally don’t think he is worth 82 mil, but guess what neither you or I is paying his salary. Who cares what these players make. It’s gonna be a drop in the bucket next year with the cap being raised. Ppl always complain about player salaries, but never say anything about the owners. There profit is split between 32 owners/the players split it between 500 plus. Now tell me who’s really making a killin.

  15. AnirudhBroMan says:

    Its not all about the numbers guys. The owner doesn’t care about the money, and he has an impact in the paint. He understands the plays, he’s there for those crunch time rebounds. He doesnt get in the way of lebron or kyrie driving, nor take up space for love to operate. Finally he is a good defender and switches well with point guards in case of screen. All these are contributing factors, and you obviously cant teach all that to sasha kaun and old anderson varejao now.

  16. ko0kiE says:

    he is a good backup player and he steadily got better over the years.. on both ends on the floor. if he doesn’t stop working, he will be a starter in this league, for almost any team.

  17. bodjee says:

    To be a role player is to sacrifice most part of your game for the betterment of the team and I am happy Tristan has been rewarded for the role he plays to make the Cavs a contender.

  18. Stopmakingexcuses says:

    Wow….. The power of Lebron. Honestly this dude is not even worth half this contract. Just two offseasons ago the Kings got ridiculed for giving Demarcus a 4yr 62 million extension. There’s NO WAY Tristan is half the player Demarcus is. NO WAY

  19. batista says:

    I guess Donald Trump will say “I could have made better deal to make the Cavs Greater”, sadly I Agree with that.
    He is a heck of a rebounder but thats it.

  20. injured prone kevin love says:

    kevin love will get injured yet again, a box of tissue is stronger.

  21. BTOWN BALLERS says:

    Who cares. TNT homie get that money. Brampton Stand UP

  22. Lovins says:

    Will be interesting to see if he gets booed their first home game…I’m sure there will be some.

  23. Lesley P says:

    Hehehehe. Reminds me of DeAndre Jordan, adeqaute defender, good rebounder but cant do much else. What a waste of valuable cap space. $82 million for a good rebounder says it all!!!!!!!!

  24. another1 says:

    He is definitely not overpaid!!

    – Carlos Boozer

  25. jhawks says:

    Regardless of how much the NBA, or any sport for that matter, pay their players, it should not be up to the public to say they make too much or too little. Sure, its high for a bench player in comparison with other bench players, but would we not all try to earn as much as we can during our short professional career? What everyone has to realize is, and its HUGE, ITS NOT YOUR MONEY! who cares? sit back and enjoy NBA basketball.. GO CAVS

  26. johnnytc1 says:

    Oh boy! The circus, the circus, the circus! The Cav circus will be soooooo much fun to watch this year and brought to you by They are no where near a championship caliber team. If they get out of the east they’ll have a half dozen teams in the west all would take The king and his merry men down in five games. I’m smiling already!

  27. kello says:

    Thompson is definitely not overpaid!!! Why – he´s a coming all-star – with out a doubt! He´s a garbage-man, board-protector and a awsome team-player! Personality I think, he´s going to be sixth-man of the year! Maybe even on the all defense first team!

  28. Steve B says:

    WAY overpaid… extremely overrated player.

  29. uhm, no to that last sentence…

    Kevin Love and Thompson can share minutes and both prove their worth.

    I don’t know if there’s any chance we see them on the floor together at some point this season, but even if they don’t they each have a chance to earn their contract regardless of how many minutes they get.

    And whether Thompson was overpaid or not will depend on changes to the cap and player salaries in the next CBA.

  30. CP says:

    Cleveland will be tough to beat

  31. Drago says:

    Overpaid is right but the problem is they have Love and that is overkill for the cap space.

  32. When the Cavs go deep regular season says:

    We can all speculate on the where’s & why fors of paying Thompson 16.4 / yr over 5 years… but will all the nay sayers argue when they need to spell Love and get him ready for a post-season push?!?

    Truth is, the Cav’s management know they need insurance – and depth. Anyone who knows even a little bit about playoff basketball also knows no serious push for The Finals can be done without depth at most every position.

    The Cav’s now have serious depth in forwards – something they’ve not had before.

    Speculate on that.

  33. Cedric says:

    A 5 year – 82 million year deal is crazy for ‘a backup’ player. Thompson is good and could get better. But right now, Hugely overpaid.

  34. …and then he’s injured forced to sit-out on the bench missing fifty-two (52) regular season games (LOL). Only goes to show that franchise owners like Dan Gilbert can be taken for every dime he’s worth?

  35. funkypiston says:

    Wow !!! 65 million in luxury taxes with a fragile roster ? 82 million for an decent defender and rebounder in Tristan Thompson is baffling. I sincerely hope when it all matters, everyone is healthy for Cavs and that should be good enough to “barely” win the Eastern Conference. Winning it all is a question mark since Cavs did not address the clear void of a third play maker. The current roster still will not be able to win a 7 game series against the Spurs, Clippers, OKC, Rockets or the Warriors.

  36. BIG-GAME-JAMES-23 says:

    ….wow…. top 3 worst contracts in NBA history

  37. jeff says:

    Doubt there is enough depth in the 2nd squad to match up with Golden State or The Spurs. Definitely overpaid, Thompson should work on some other skills and not sit on his 82 million if he wants a ring. Don’t see any sacrifice at Cleveland, where I see players jumping onto the Spurs for much less that their real value. I’m a Bulls supporter, but the Spurs are one of the most stacked teams in history and yet they play like a TEAM with no “I’s” in the equation. Timmy will probably get another ring. He should own the Spurs for the money he has left on the table. No money on the table, under the table or in the safe at Cleveland, they are bust, with an addition 65 million in luxuries that wont bring them a ring. They still need to work out how to play as a team. Good luck tho….you’re gunna need it!

    • LAshowALLDAY says:

      well said! stupid move with that contract.. but i guess lebron had a lot to do with them being forced to that huge contract

  38. Tomas says:

    Are they crazy? He is not worth that much. He is not worth even to play for Cavs. OMG…

  39. Kriss says:

    Nba is a fcking joke.
    82+ mill for player without defence only..Max 50 mil.

  40. Ollie says:

    Good deal I am happy now they can get down to business, haters gonna hate love the cavs

  41. Antonio Perez says:

    that’s way too much , Charles Barkley is right , these guys are getting pay too much money , no disrespect but i think that 10 millions is still too much for the kind of player he is , 1 million a year sound more reasonable especially for his contribution , i wonder how much the bench players are getting , maybe i need a job in the nba as the water boy or the mop guy so i can buy a lamborgini , now cavs fans say what ever you want like he is worth 100 millions , it don’t matter who you get and how much you pay , the cavs won’t win the championship , all we have to do is wait and see

  42. sanjay says:

    this is just atrocious pay roll team!
    mozgov is getting peanuts and next year they got to keep him.
    cavs better win this year.
    but lebron james back is a worry. I suggest he sleeps till december end and play just 60 games this season!!!

  43. easy-d38 says:

    now the cavs cannot trade him at this price. scroooowed. and they gave 1 milllions to delavedoladelavedolava ! lol
    if they make the finals, it will be thx to te weak eastern conference, not an average pf in development.
    pay for potential instead of results is not good at all.

  44. Nick says:

    Wow, you guys are falling all over yourselves trying to justify the fact that, yes, Thompson is being overpaid. It’s as simple as that. He’s getting paid about the same as Green of the Warriors and Leonard of the Spurs yet he is nowhere near the players they are. Let’s see, how much per rebound does the contract come to? I don’t blame him for trying to get as much as he can, but his agent must have known the Cav’s ownership are patsy’s.

  45. mike23 says:

    He deserves it. go back to the play offs and check out the highlights. hes a monster!!

  46. Drift Gangsta says:

    so can LeDiva stop hostaging the cavs and start playing?

  47. Don Zeppernick says:

    He showed his worth at crunch time during playoffs and is a huge piece of the Cavs title quest, make no mistake. Dan Gilbert, et al thought he was worth the 82M.

  48. Eaham says:

    lmfao..they better win this year