Free agent power forward Tristan Thompson's agent Rich Paul says if his client accepts a one-year qualifying offer from the Cavaliers, it will be his last season in Cleveland.
Thompson remains the last major free-agent domino to fall in a busy offseason. Reports indicated Thompson and the Cavs broke off contract talks in mid-July, hitting an impasse over money with Thompson angling for a deal at or close to max level ($94 million over five years). ESPN's Brian Windhorst reports Cleveland's offer remains at a significantly lower number.
“If [Thompson] is on the qualifying offer, [this] will be his last year with the Cavs,” Paul told media outlets.
Paul also represents LeBron James. There was speculation earlier in the summer that James could wait to re-sign with Cleveland until Thompson received the contract offer he wanted, although James agreed to a new deal with the Cavaliers in July. Next summer, the salary cap is set to take a major leap thanks to the NBA's new television deal, freeing up a majority of the league's teams with major cap space.
Cleveland's qualifying offer, a one-year deal worth $6.8 million, allows Thompson to become an unrestricted free agent in 2016 and pick his next team should he sign it. Windhorst reports no final decision will be made until September, as Cavaliers training camp nears. Thompson's camp continues to angle for a greater payday in the meantime. Cleveland has expressed its intention to sign Thompson long-term, and there has been no “ill will” between the sides, according to the report.
Technically, teams can still approach Thompson with an offer, although Cleveland can match any deal. Portland and Philadelphia are the two teams with enough space to approach Thompson's desired contract number.
Thompson, 24, had a breakout playoffs for Cleveland and bolstered the team on the interior all the way to the Finals, where they fell to Golden State in six games. He averaged 8.5 points and eight rebounds during the regular season, and 9.6 points and 10.8 rebounds in 20 playoff games.
- Jeremy Woo