Is Cleveland Cavaliers’ Tristan Thompson Being Greedy or Really Smart?


Cleveland Cavaliers’ power forward/center Tristan Thompson remains without a deal nearly two months into free agency.

The 24-year-old averaged 8.5 points, 8.0 rebounds and 0.7 blocks in 26.8 minutes a game last season, splitting time between starter and reserve.

Thompson’s free agent case is unlike any we’ve ever seen before thanks to his representatives, the Cavaliers being on the brink of a championship and the salary cap ballooning in upcoming years.

While earlier reports had Thompson and the Cavs coming to terms on a five-year deal in the neighborhood of $80 million, he’s now supposedly looking for a max deal closer to $94 million.

To put numbers in perspective, the latter amount would be nearly identical to what Kyrie Irving, a three-time All-Star and former Rookie of the Year, is making. Thompson will be, at best, the Cavaliers’ sixth man and hustle guy this season.

All of this means that Thompson is a super greedy, money-grubbing monster, right?

Most of us non-professional athletes would happily do our jobs for $16 million a year. Even doctors, lawyers and a few people that work at Google.

This isn’t necessarily true, however. You probably wouldn’t be too pleased if a co-worker, one who arguably did a worse job then you, was making over $1 million more. Or, if next year, a different company would be willing to offer a salary $9 million higher than what you’re currently taking home.

This is where negotiations with Thompson have hit a snag. It’s not that he’s necessarily being greedy, but why not take the extra cash for the same amount of work if it’s available?

Thompson isn’t going to be paid what he’s worth, but rather what others have set the market as and what teams have the potential to offer next summer.

Who cares that Thompson, he of a reserve role, is going to be drastically overpaid. Is Dan Gilbert taking the money out of your pockets? Is he raising your grocery, cable or health care bill? Gilbert’s net worth has tripled over the past three years and now sits at $4.8 billion and rising, according to Forbes. It’s safe to say he can afford to pay Thompson whatever he wants.

After watching Draymond Green cash in on a five-year, $85 million deal with the Golden State Warriors and Enes Kanter, one of the league’s worst defensive big men, receive $70 million over four years from the Oklahoma City Thunder, paying Thompson $90 million doesn’t seem quite as terrible.

In fact, $90 million sounds pretty good compared to what Cleveland may be forced to ante up to keep Thompson in town next year. According to Chris Haynes of the Northeast Ohio Media Group, “There’s about four or five teams that are willing to offer him four years and $100 million. Look at next year’s free agent class. There’s not a great group of guys there. Tristan will get paid.”

For those with rusty math skills, that’s an average of $25 million per season. For Tristan Thompson.

This is the new NBA.

By asking for $90-plus million now, Thompson isn’t being greedy, he’s being smart. Most, if not all, of us would do the same, trying to get the most money for the amount of work that we do, especially if our bosses’ pockets were as deep as Gilbert’s.

Whatever extension the Cavaliers end up giving Thompson will be way too much for his role in Cleveland, yes, but now isn’t the time to pinch pennies.

The Cavs need to max out Thompson now while he’s still a restricted free agent to actually save money and go all-in financially towards a championship.

Greg Swartz covers the Cleveland Cavaliers for King James Gospel and Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter: @CavsGregBR.