Report: Tristan Thompson won’t accept less than max from Cavaliers, his agent thinks Raptors will offer it next summer

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Tristan Thompson reportedly rejected a five-year, $80 million contract offer from the Cavaliers.

So just how much does he want?

Apparently, $94,343,125 – a max contract – and not a penny less.

Ric Bucher of Bleacher Report:

A league source tells me that his agent, Rich Paul, has already made it clear to the Cleveland Cavaliers that Thompson will not sign a long-term deal unless it is a max deal. And otherwise, he is prepared to sign a one-year qualifying offer with the additional knowledge, according to the source, that Paul believes that he can get a max deal with the Raptors next summer.

I don’t think Thompson is worth a max contract in a vacuum, even accounting for the skyrocketing salary cap. He’s an excellent rebounder, versatile defender and can score near the rim. But he has little shooting range and doesn’t protect the rim as well as he should.

Of course, Thompson and Cleveland don’t operate in a vacuum.

If the Cavaliers lose Thompson, they won’t have cap space to sign a near-equal outside replacement. They can keep Thompson only because they have his Bird Rights. That gives Thompson considerable leverage, only somewhat related to his production.

So does his relationship with Paul, who also represents LeBron James. The Cavaliers surely want to keep LeBron happy, and LeBron said Thompson should spend the rest of his career in Cleveland.

Maybe Thompson would ultimately settle for less than the max before the Oct. 1 deadline to accept the qualifying offer, but there’s little reason to do so now. Thompson should posture that he wants the max. Maybe the Cavs will blink first. If Thompson compromises, he should wait a month to do so. (Knowing that, Cleveland will be loathe to up its offer any time soon.)

Simply waiting will get Thompson further than this Toronto threat. Maybe the Raptors are interested in Thompson, a native Canadian. They could improve at power forward, but they don’t project to have enough cap space to offer Thompson the max. The easiest way for them to clear salary is DeMar DeRozan opting out, but that would create a hole on the wing that should take precedent over a power forward upgrade.

Plus, a max for Thompson next summer – when the new national TV contracts kick in – will be much higher. It’s one thing for the capped-out Cavaliers to pay him more than $94 million. It’s another for a team with cap room to pursue any free agent to pay him more than $89 million over four years.

If Dan Gilbert is willing to spend the real dollars – and it seems the Cavaliers owner is – paying Thompson the max is justifiable cap-wise. Paul knows this, and he’s clearly not giving the Cavs a break. Paul has already threatened that, if Thompson accepts the qualifying offer, the forward will leave Cleveland next summer. If Paul is floating the Raptors as a potential destination, that’s probably just an attempt to worry the Cavaliers a little more.

Maybe the Cavaliers, to avoid losing Thompson for nothing, just give him the max now.

If they don’t, Paul will surely try a different method to convince them to do it.

Greek Freak makes himself at home in Paris, scores 30 points, Bucks beat Hornets

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PARIS (AP) — Giannis Antetokounmpo had 30 points and 12 rebounds and the NBA-leading Milwaukee Bucks beat the Charlotte Hornets 116-103 on Friday night in the first NBA regular-season game in France.

Milwaukee improved to 40-6 with its eighth straight victory. The Bucks have the best 46-game start in franchise history. They were 39-7 in 1970-71 when they went on to win the NBA championship.

Eric Bledsoe added 20 points and five assists for the Bucks.

Malik Monk led Charlotte with 31 points. The Hornets have lost eight in a row.

Milwaukee rallied to tie it at 78 going into the fourth quarter. Pat Connaughton put the Bucks in front with a dunk in the fourth. Then Antetokounmpo got going, drawing a foul as he slalomed through the defense.

 

Report: Needing depth at center, Dallas trades for Willie Cauley-Stein from Golden State

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Dallas took a big hit this week when center Dwight Powell went down with a torn Achilles. The Mavericks’ starting center was a critical pick-and-roll partner with Luka Doncic, a roll man and vertical threat that allowed Kristaps Porzingis to space the floor (along with other Dallas shooters), plus Powell was a solid team defender.

Willie Cauley-Stein is going to get a chance to fill that role.

Golden State is trading Cauley-Stein to Dallas for a second-round pick.

Dallas just made a trade for Justin Patton to waive him and clear out a roster spot for this trade.

Cauley-Stein is averaging an efficient 7.9 points and 6.2 rebounds a game for Golden State. More importantly for Dallas, he provides the athletic dive man, a threat on the roll they need to keep things open for Doncic.

Dallas could have waited out the market to try and land a better center, but this gives them a reliable fit for minimal cost (a late second-round pick, they kept Golden State’s own second rounder). Cauley-Stein will split time at the five with Kristaps Porzingis, Maxi Kleber, and Boban Marjanovic.

For those of you crunching the numbers at home:

For Golden State, in the short term, this move creates a couple of open roster spots. One of those likely will be used to re-sign Marquese Chriss, who was waived last week. The other roster spot likely will go to Ky Bowman.

Golden State adds a pick and a trade exception for sending out a player that was not part of their long-term plans anyway.

In trade about money/roster space, Mavericks send Isaiah Roby to Thunder for Justin Patton, cash

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We have a trade…

That shifts things around on the end of the bench in Dallas so they could create a roster spot forWillie Cauley-Stein (a trade that was announced later). A trade that is mostly about saving some and rolling the dice on a project in OKC.

Dallas is sending Isaiah Roby to OKC for Justin Patton, a story broken by Shams Charania of The Athletic.

What is really going on here?

For Dallas, this is about clearing out a roster spot, it plans to waive Patton. That roster spot is going to Willie Cauley-Stein in a trade with Golden State, that was just reported. The Mavericks lost center Dwight Powell to a torn Achilles this week and needed to bring in a player or two — via trade or free agency — to help bolster the existing front line of Kristaps Porzingis, Maxi Kleber, and Boban Marjanovic. Here is Brad Townsend of the Dallas Morning News.

The move also clears out a little cash for Dallas.

In Oklahoma City, they get a young player to develop but also save some money.

Roby has not played in an NBA game yet. The rookie out of Nebraska — taken 45th overall last June — is a development project, but one who passes the eye test for an NBA power forward. He did a lot of things well in college — scoring, rebounding, works hard off the ball — but can he do that at an NBA level? He’s played in nine G-League games this season, averaging 9.2 points and 7 rebounds a game.

 

Bulls: Lauri Markkanen out 4-6 weeks

Lauri Markkanen
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Lauri Markkanen ranked No. 34 on our list of the 50 best players in 5 years entering the season.

Instead of building toward that promise, Markkanen has underwhelmed. His shot just isn’t falling as hoped.

Now, the news get even worse.

Bulls:

The Bulls (2.5 games and two games out) have been hanging in the playoff race. But there was already little reason to believe they’d make a postseason push. Now, there’s even less rationale to predict a longshot postseason run.

Markkanen will be eligible for a contract extension next offseason. The 22-year-old can still fulfill his potential as a 7-foot shooter with defensive versatility. But he’s running out of time to show consistent contributions. That’ll make it tougher for Chicago to offer a satisfactory extension.

Two of the very things that could happen for the Bulls are Markkanen shaking off his extended slump and landing a high draft pick.

This could help with both.