With a week to go until the start of training camp, there remains a $14 million gap in contract talks between restricted free agent Tristan Thompson and the Cleveland Cavaliers, sources told ESPN.com.
The Cavs have held firm at an offer of five years and $80 million with Thompson looking for a max contract of $94 million over the same span, sources said. The talks have been at a virtual standstill since early July, and there isn’t much optimism on either side.
This is a fascinating negotiation.
Thompson has a lot of leverage. If the Cavaliers lose him, they won’t have cap space to find a suitable replacement. It’s essentially Thompson or a low-level player. Plus, Thompson shares an agent, Rich Paul, with LeBron James. Cleveland obviously wants to keep LeBron happy.
The Cavaliers, seemingly realizing Thompson’s great bargaining position, made him a sweetheart offer relative to his on-court production.
And it still wasn’t enough.
I’d advise Thompson to take the $80 mill, though I don’t know enough about his appetite for risk. The potential definitely exists for him to make more by taking the qualifying offer and becoming an unrestricted free agent next summer.
But I’d also advise Cavaliers general manager David Griffin to offer Thompson the max, at least if owner Dan Gilbert approves of the spending (in both salary and luxury-tax payments). From a team-building standpoint, Thompson is worth the cost.
So, both sides wait for the other to blink. It might happen close to the Oct. 1 expiration of Thompson’s qualifying offer, but there’s little reason for either to budge quite yet.