Tristan Thompson Controls Contract Talks With Cavaliers


The Cleveland Cavaliers still need to re-sign Tristan Thompson, but the big man controls all of the leverage in negotiations. 

When the Cleveland Cavaliers were making a run to the NBA Finals last season, one player started to stick out more and more. Tristan Thompson was put in a unique situation to show the world what he was worth after Kevin Love went down with a shoulder injury at the end of the first-round series against the Boston Celtics.

It was the Tristan Thompson show from that point on, and he shined bright in the hot spotlight of the NBA playoffs.

While Matthew Dellavedova had flash int he pan type of fame in the Finals, Thompson’s progress was real and meaningful to the Cavaliers. He showed that he was worth a max contract — something that was opined about at the beginning of the season. I wondered aloud if the Cavaliers were going to be put in a situation where they’d have to max out Thompson — and I’ll be damned but it happened.

But just because the Cavaliers are in a situation where Tristan wants a max deal doesn’t mean they’re going to give it to him. We’ve seen plenty of evidence to suggest this as contract negotiations continue between the Cavs and Thompson’s camp. Cleveland has refused to formally offer Thompson a max contract and right now all that is really dangling out there is a $6.7 million qualifying offer.

This seems bogus, but it gives Thompson all of the leverage in contract negotiations.

Sure, it seems like s crappy deal, especially since Tristan wants $15 million per season. But if he accepts the qualifying offer from the Cavs, then that puts pressure on the team to give him a max deal or risk losing him on the open market next season. We’ve seen this happen so many times with players before — most recently with Greg Monroe and the Detroit Pistons.

Monroe wanted a max offer last summer from the Pistons but Detroit refused to offer him anything other than the measly qualifying offer they were required to. The hope was that another team would offer Monroe a max deal and the Pistons would either have to match or let him walk.

No one offered that deal.

As a result, Monroe accepted the qualifying offer at the last minute and was vastly underpaid in 2014-15. To his benefit though, he was an unrestricted free agent this summer and ended up in a position where he received a fat contract from the Milwaukee Bucks.

That’s what Thompson is banking on — and he’s in a much better situation than Monroe was in Detroit to put his skills on display to the rest of the NBA.

This is the leverage that Thompson has, and it means everything. Just like how LeBron James holding out on the Heat last summer before burning them was a preemptive strike against Dan Gilbert, Thompson should be threatening to accept the qualifying offer rather than holding out for the max deal he wants.

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