Tristan Thompson will begin the upcoming season in a reserve role, thanks to the comfort level that LeBron James has playing alongside Anderson Varejao which comes from his previous stint with the Cavaliers.
That’ll be an adjustment, considering Thompson started all 82 games for Cleveland in each of the past two seasons.
Varejao has struggled to stay healthy in recent years, though, so Thompson may still see somewhere close to a starter’s share of the minutes. He certainly hopes so, considering the fact that unless a contract extension is agreed upon before Oct. 31, Thompson will enter next summer as a restricted free agent — a prospect that seems more likely each day, because the two sides haven’t even discussed it.
From Chris Haynes of Cleveland.com:
The deadline for the Cavaliers and Thompson to agree to a rookie-scale extension is Oct. 31. That’s less than a week away and sources close to the situation says, “There has been zero discussion on an extension” between the two sides.
It’s no secret Thompson’s agent, Rich Paul of Klutch Sports, also represents the one guy responsible for the bright lights returning to Quicken Loans Arena with the Cavaliers boasting a league-high 29 national televised games. …
One league source described Thompson’s presence as the “Horace Grant of this team,” a selfless power forward whose dirty work helped the Chicago Bulls conquer their first three-peat championships from 1991-93.
The entire piece reads like a paid infomercial for Thompson; its headline screams ‘No monetary value can properly illustrate worth of Cleveland Cavaliers’ Tristan Thompson,’ while adjectives used to describe him include “irreplaceable” in a discussion of his “immeasurable” importance.
The odd nature of the article aside, the real reason there haven’t been talks on an extension is that those in Cleveland’s front office likely realize how fruitless those discussions would be.
Thompson and his representation are both likely well aware that his chances of earning a bigger payday increase dramatically if he has a solid season on a championship contender, and putting up big numbers would appear to be that much easier on a Cavaliers team which is now loaded with players that possess a superstar level of talent, all of whom require the focus of the opposing defense. And, there will be more money available for him as the salary cap increases dramatically, thanks to the league’s new broadcast rights deal coming in at several billion dollars.
Even if it were true that losing Thompson in free agency would be “catastrophic,” it’s unlikely it ever gets to that point. The fact that he’s so close to LeBron James and is represented by Rich Paul means that if things go as expected for him this season, Thompson will receive the deal he desires — one that would be considered outlandish now, but could possibly appear to be more reasonable in the future.