Restricted free agent Tristan Thompson, who has reportedly rejected a five-year, $80MM contract offer from the Cavaliers, will not put pen to paper on a new pact unless it is a maximum salary deal, Ric Bucher of Bleacher Report (video link) relays (hat tip to Dan Feldman of ProBasketballTalk). Thompson’s agent, Rich Paul, has already made it clear to the Cavs’ front office that his client is prepared to sign his one-year qualifying offer worth $6,777,589 if a deal can’t be worked out between the two sides, Bucher notes.
By signing the qualifying offer, Thompson would set himself up to become an unrestricted free agent next Summer, just in time for the salary cap to increase significantly. One reason that Thompson would be willing to roll the dice and play out the 2015/16 campaign without the comfort and security of a long-term pact is that Paul believes he can wrangle a max deal out of the Raptors next offseason, Bucher adds. Michael Scotto of Sheridan Hoops had previously broached the possibility of Thompson, a Canadian native, joining the Raptors in 2016/17. One Eastern Conference GM had told Scotto that he thought Thompson would end up in Toronto this summer. Thompson is friends with Raptors signee Cory Joseph, who’s also from Toronto.
Raptors GM Masai Ujiri has stated that he considers it a priority to add Canadian born players to the team, which makes Thompson a natural target for the franchise. “We are studying it. I even considered last year hiring somebody to concentrate just on Canadian players and I think I’m going to go through with it because the growth of the game here is so big,” Ujiri said. “It’s the fit. We can maybe take our time and study it a little bit so it is the right fit and not do it just to do it. It’s going to come, there is no doubt in my mind. It’s an obligation that I think we have to fulfil. We are a Canadian team and I think to have Canadian players, I think will be phenomenal.”
Cleveland is in a difficult position regarding its negotiations with the forward, since LeBron James, also a client of Paul’s, has publicly stated that he wants Thompson to remain with the Cavs, and James is able to opt out of his contract next Summer. Thompson and the Cavs were reportedly close to an agreement on the first day of free agency, but talks stalled when Thompson reportedly asked for $85MM over five years, after it was reported that Draymond Green received that much from Golden State. Green’s actual deal was for $82MM, contrary to those initial leaked figures.
Thompson had also turned down a four-year, $52MM extension offer this past fall, betting on the odds that he could do better this summer, despite the Cavs adding Kevin Love to the roster prior to the start of the 2014/15 season. The Cavs do hold Thompson’s Bird rights, meaning that they could outbid other teams for the 24-year-old’s services next offseason.