Never mind the long hot days of August having everyone looking for a cool place to lie down. The representative for Cavaliers forward Tristan Thompson is turning up the heat.
“A Tristan Thompson qualifying offer will be his last year with Cavs,” agent Rich Paul told Chris Haynes of the Northeast Ohio Media Group.
If that ended up being the case, Thompson would be an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2016.
The lengthy stalemate between the two sides is being viewed by Thompson’s camp as a level of disrespect. The power forward is seeking a contract of five years, up to $90 million.
In a summer that has seen NBA free agents sign contracts worth more than a combined $1 billion, Thompson is the biggest name left on the market, not to mention a key member of the rotation in Cleveland around LeBron James.
While a max level contract for a player who started just 15 of 82 games last season might seem high, Thompson did step up when Kevin Love suffered the first-round shoulder injury that sidelined him from the playoffs. Thompson’s strong offensive rebounding and his defense were a key part of the Cavaliers advancing to the NBA Finals before losing to the Warriors. In addition, if the 24-year-old Thompson were to sign a one-year qualifying offer for $6.8 million with the Cavs for next season, he would then become a 2016 free agent at a time when the salary cap is expected to increase by roughly $20 million and he could have no fewer than 20 teams with cap space bidding for his services.
Understandable that the Cavs, who are already looking at paying a tax bill for being over the cap, would look to hold the line and lessen the financial hit. But they could also be playing with fire by gambling that Thompson will eventually cave in. Last year at this time, Eric Bledsoe and the Suns went to the wall before the guard finally signed a new contract in September. But Detroit’s Greg Monroe signed one-year qualifying offer for 2014-15, became an unrestricted free agent and signed in July with Milwaukee, leaving his former team with nothing in return.
The Cavs are going to pay Thompson now or pay him more next summer. Time to end the drama.