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#pounditTuesday, May 11, 2021

Report: Tristan Thompson won’t take below max from Cavs, eyes Raptors

Tristan Thompson

In a saga that is dragging out longer than the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise (RIP Wes Craven), restricted free agent Tristan Thompson continues to hold out for a new contract extension from the Cavaliers. After turning down a five-year, $80 million deal from the team earlier this offseason, it’s become clear that Thompson and agent Rich Paul are not budging. They want Cleveland to offer Thompson a max deal and are not intent on taking anything less. Now, it looks like a contingency plan is beginning to take shape.

Per 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.

We’ve already heard about Thompson’s threats to take the one-year qualifying offer for $6.8 million, in which case the 2015-16 season would be his last in Cleveland. I’ve also been vocal over the last couple of months about how the 24-year-old isn’t worth anything close to the max, even considering the impending salary cap eruption. He is a valuable talent to the Cavs that has his niche (rebounding, keeping possessions alive, interior defense, working as the roll man, etc.) and does it well. But with his undersized frame and his sunny-side-up offensive game, he is essentially a role player right now. And role players shouldn’t and don’t get the max.

Betting on Toronto offering the max next summer is an interesting one to parlay, but I don’t know if the Raptors would be willing or able to give Thompson that money. They do have a need at power forward after Amir Johnson signed in Boston this offseason. But the Raptors already have big long-term salary tied up to Kyle Lowry and DeMarre Carroll and just gave Jonas Valanciunas a hefty payday a couple of weeks ago. Their interest in soon-to-be free agent Nicolas Batum is well-known as well, and I’m sure that they want to remain competitive for Canada’s favorite son Andrew Wiggins once his rookie deal expires. Maxing out Thompson would cripple their future flexibility and just doesn’t seem worth it.

My money is still on the Cavs eventually caving and shelling out the max for Thompson as the offseason winds down. The impact of having LeBron “Cleveland Jesus” James in your corner can never be overstated.

Plus you know, it’s fun to root for Dan Gilbert’s pockets to run dry. Go get that max, Tristan!

H/T ProBasketballTalk

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