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#pounditWednesday, February 21, 2024

Tristan Thompson reportedly could take qualifying offer, leave Cavs in 2016

Tristan Thompson

In the greatest stalemate on this side of Hayes vs. Tilden, restricted free agent Tristan Thompson continues to hold out for a new deal from the Cleveland Cavaliers. The 24-year-old forward, who was said to be seeking a max or near-max deal, is reportedly in a deadlock with the team, having made no real progress in contract talks since mid-July. Now, Thompson may seriously be considering just taking the one-year qualifying offer and bolting the team as an unrestricted free agent in 2016.

ESPN.com’s Brian Windhorst reported on Thursday that the two sides remain far apart on an agreement:

There is no clear precedent for his position, which has led to a stalemate between Thompson and the Cleveland Cavaliers. It has been difficult to negotiate a middle ground, setting the stage for possible tension as training camp approaches.

Thompson, an excellent offensive rebounder and pick-and-roll player who proved valuable in the Cavs’ run to the Finals, is believed to be looking for a maximum-level contract of around $94 million over five years. The Cavs’ offers have been for significantly less.

There has been no real progress since the second week of July when talks reached an impasse and both sides dug in.

Michael Grange of Sportsnet painted a much more dire portrait of the situation. Apparently, Thompson’s agent Rich Paul is giving the Cavs an ultimatum, threatening that the former No. 4 overall pick could opt for the one-year qualifying offer and leave the team for nothing in Summer 2016.

This was confirmed by Chris Haynes of Northeast Ohio Media Group.

It’s worth noting that Paul also represents LeBron James, which gives Thompson some amount of bargaining ground. Fellow Paul/Klutch Sports client Eric Bledsoe famously held out until late September last offseason before agreeing to a rich (no pun intended) deal with the Phoenix Suns.

But working with a much more one-dimensional player in Thompson, this may be a case of Paul biting off more than he can chew. It’s a shrewd negotiating demand on Paul’s part. But is it really enough to incentivize the Cavs to cough up the desired $90 million-plus for essentially a role player? Sure he extends possessions and provides solid post defense and rim dives. But with the Herculean tax bill Cavs owner Dan Gilbert is already set to foot even without Thompson, maybe the team just calls his bluff.

Taking the $6.8 million qualifying offer would be an interesting avenue for Thompson to take. It’s an option that is inherently risk-laden, particularly if Thompson gets hurt or regresses. But with the TV money set to arrive next summer and increase every team’s cap room astronomically, Thompson could be looking at an even bigger payday at this time next year. Not to mention, the potential of a larger role elsewhere.

Recently, we’ve seen more and more NBA players bet on themselves on the open market and win. Names like Jimmy Butler, Reggie Jackson, and KJ McDaniels come to mind. One highly similar parallel is Greg Monroe, who reached an impasse with the Pistons last year, took the qualifying offer, and signed for more money in a better situation with the Bucks this summer.

Now with historical precedent on his side, Thompson may opt to do just that. For a player of his talents, Cleveland’s appraisals of his value are probably more than fair. But Thompson’s ego and Rich Paul-derived chutzpah are getting in the way here, and that’s why we now have this situation, one that could spell the end of TT’s tenure in Cleveland before too long.

We’ll see which of the two sides blinks first.

H/T ProBasketballTalk

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