Now Thompson heads into an offseason unsure of what’s next or what the free agent market will look like. Who will want — and be able to afford — his services?
The Cavaliers want to bring him back, reports Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
Multiple sources tell cleveland.com the Cavs want Thompson to stay. The front office discussed an extension with his camp earlier this season. While those talks quickly broke down and the Cavs eventually traded for two-time All-Star center Andre Drummond, the Cavs plan to at least try to re-sign Thompson this offseason — even if it’s a one-year, mutually-beneficial deal that allows him to hit free agency in the summer of 2021, where more teams will have cap space and the impact of COVID-19 may soften.
This is what the Cavs have to say, “of course we want to bring back a popular player and link to our title team.”
The reality is last season was likely Thompson’s last with the Cavaliers — he asked to be traded at the deadline, the team just couldn’t find a deal it liked. Cleveland kept Thompson around in part because he’s a good influence on the young Cavaliers’ core, guys such as Collin Sexton and Darius Garland.
The questions for Thompson this offseason are money and role.
Thompson, at 30, started most of the Cavaliers’ games before the shut down of the league last season, stayed healthy, and averaged 12 points and 10.1 rebounds a game playing 30 minutes a night. He’s strong on the boards and showed good energy on defense. He’s going to want close to that kind of role going forward, but the Cavaliers now have Drummond, so Thompson would become a backup.
Money is going to be tougher in a season where not a lot of teams had cap space, and now the salary cap is expected to drop some (how much depends on negotiations between the league and players’ union that are ongoing).
Maybe the Cavs and Thompson reach terms on a one-year contract so Thompson can hit the market again in 2021 when more teams are expected to have cap space. However, it’s more likely Thompson takes a deal elsewhere this offseason — not for the five-years, $82 million he got from Cleveland back in 2015, but for more money and a bigger role than Cleveland can offer right now.