It has been one of the more protracted contract sagas of the summer, and just as it looked to be done at one point, it wasn’t to be. ESPN’s Chris Broussard reported earlier today that Tristan Thompson had in fact re-signed with the Cavaliers, only to be shut down by several other insiders. Broussard was so certain, he seemingly forgot to turn off caps lock:
However, something was not quite right, as other NBA insiders began to refute the story:
Which lead to Broussard being red-faced and having to adjust his story:
Unfortunately for Broussard, this is not the first incident this year where he has been embarassed on social media. Who could forget this zinger by Mavericks’ owner Mark Cuban, after Broussard tweeted that Cuban was in his car driving around Dallas trying to find DeAndre Jordan.
Ladies and gentlemen, how not to do journalism, starring Chris Broussard.
As for Thompson’s situation, it is fast becoming one of the more protracted contract sagas we’ve seen. Thompson’s agent, Rich Paul, has a habit of dragging out discussions and did a similar thing with Suns guard Eric Bledsoe last year. Of course, Bledsoe eventually got offered a significantly larger deal than what was initially put on the table, so Paul knows a thing or two about negotiations.
The Thompson camp was initially holding out for a 5-year, $94M deal, one which the Cavaliers refused to give in to, due to their already hefty luxury tax bill. As Broussard reported, Paul has budged on this and is now asking for a 3-year, $53M deal. While it looks less on the surface, the value per year is roughly the same. However, this shorter deal gives Thompson an opportunity to earn max dollars in three seasons.
Thompson’s situation is a tough one because no one is really sure exactly what he is worth. He is essentially a guy who excels in one skill set (rebounding) and is pretty much average in all other facets of his game. Despite this, Thompson proved to be integral in the Cavaliers’ run to the NBA Finals last year and grabbed the Cavaliers an astounding number of second possessions due to his ability to out rebound his opponent. While on the surface, 18M a year seems like a gross overpay, Thompson is young and durable, and 18M paid this year could prove to be a bargain in the coming years, given the salary cap explosion that is around the corner.
The value that Thompson brings to the Cavaliers is one that is not really evident when looking at his numbers. Thompson averaged just 8.5 points and 8.0 rebounds to go with 0.7 blocks per game in the regular season. However, those numbers were obtained while playing just 26.8 minutes per game. In the absence of Kevin Love in the post-season, Thompson played 36.4 minutes per game and naturally saw his numbers spike up to 9.6 points, 10.8 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game. Thompson further elevated his game in the Finals, averaging a double-double of 10.0 points and 13.0 rebounds per game.
Thompson re-signing with the Cavaliers not only has tangible benefits for the Cavaliers, but for Thompson himself too. Surrounded by perennial all-stars, Thompson is in the ideal spot to win now and win going forward. Other than LeBron James, the Cavaliers’ core is still relatively young and should be contenders for several years to come. Playing with these superstars, Thompson is not asked to do too much and is able to focus on his strengths. However, if he were to sign a max deal elsewhere, Thompson could be put in a position where his offense is expected to flourish, and this could prove to to diminish his value as a player.
Just for a point of reference, Bledsoe signed his deal last year on the 25th of September. It is the 25th of September in the United States tomorrow. It would not be beneficial for Thompson or the Cavaliers for this to drag on into the season, a season where it is essentially title or bust.
Something has got to give.