Tristan Thompson‘s qualifying offer is set to expire at day’s end.
Logic says that deadline will, one way or another, end Thompson’s free agency.
The Cavaliers believe so.
Cleveland general manager David Griffin, via Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon Journal:
“We fully expect (Friday) he’ll be here in some form or fashion and we’re excited to get going,” Griffin told NBA TV during a live broadcast of Thursday’s Cavs practice. “We’re hopeful that he wants to move forward with his teammates in the same way we want to have Tristan here. If we can come to some agreement we will.”
The Cavaliers could extend Thompson’s window for accepting the qualifying offer, but they have no reason to do so. They’d prefer to lock him up long-term, and that would become easier if he couldn’t fall back on the one-year qualifying offer.
Thompson could also let the deadline pass without signing. He could still sign an offer sheet with any team until March 1 or re-sign with Cleveland at any point. But he’d be taking a huge risk. He could no longer unilaterally accept the qualifying offer, his biggest leverage. If he didn’t sign all season, the Cavaliers could extend him a new qualifying offer next summer and make him a restricted free agent all over again.
The Cavaliers clearly aren’t extending Thompson’s qualifying offer. If they were – which they never would – Griffin wouldn’t say this.
I don’t know whether Thompson and his agent, Rich Paul, are crazy enough to negotiate without the qualifying offer available. I would certainly advise against it, and Griffin – rightly or wrongly – doesn’t expect it. I’m guessing he knows.
That would mean Thompson and the Cavaliers have just a few hours to negotiate a long-term deal. If they fail to agree, Thompson would take the qualifying offer before midnight.
Either way, that’d mean he’s signed in time for practice tomorrow.