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Contract Scenarios For Tristan Thompson

It’s crunch time for Tristan Thompson. Training camp starts in less than two weeks, and October 1st is the last day for Thompson to accept his qualifying offer from the Cavaliers. The Rich Paul client could let that date pass and continue to be a restricted free agent, but it seems much more likely that a resolution of some sort will come before then.

The former No. 4 overall pick is not without attractive choices. The Cavaliers have apparently been willing to give him $80MM over five years since his free agency began July 1st, but Thompson believes he can do better. He’s reportedly prepared to sign the qualifying offer if the Cavs don’t deliver a max deal, and Paul has said that if Thompson does take that qualifying offer, which would set him up for unrestricted free agency next summer, the power forward wouldn’t re-sign with the Cavs in 2016. Paul, who just watched client Norris Cole sign his qualifying offer from the Pelicans, apparently believes Thompson can receive a max deal from his hometown Raptors next summer, while another report indicated that Paul has three teams willing to pay him the max if he hits the open market next year.

[RELATED POST: 2016 Free Agent Power Rankings]

Normally, the qualifying offer would entail a financial sacrifice that wouldn’t make sense for a top free agent. However, the spike in the salary cap projected for 2016/17 changes the equation for Thompson. Here’s what a five-year, $80MM contract, like the one the Cavs are apparently offering to Thompson, might look like:

Five-year, $80MM contract
2015/16: $13,913,044
2016/17: $14,956,522
2017/18: $16,000,001
2018/19: $17,043,479
2019/20: $18,086,957
Total: $80,000,000

Here’s what Thompson would make if the Cavs relented and gave him a max deal this year:

Max contract this year from Cavs
2015/16: $16,407,500
2016/17: $17,638,063
2017/18: $18,868,625
2018/19: $20,099,188
2019/20: $21,329,750
Total: $94,343,125

Now, here’s what Thompson would get if he signed his qualifying offer and followed it up by signing a max deal with another team next summer, assuming the NBA’s 2016/17 maximum salary for a player with Thompson’s level of experience comes in at the projected $20.4MM:

Qualifying offer, then leave for max deal
2015/16: $6,777,589
2016/17: $20,400,000 (figure based on projection)
2017/18: $21,318,000 (figure based on projection)
2018/19: $22,236,000 (figure based on projection)
2019/20: $23,154,000 (figure based on projection)
Total: $93,885,589 (figure based on projection)

As you can see, the totals in those last two scenarios are pretty close. So, if the Cavs believe that Thompson can indeed score a max deal elsewhere this summer, they’d have reason to exceed $80MM in their offer.

Let’s look at a couple of other scenarios that could come into play. The Trail Blazers are the only team with enough cap flexibility as of now to sign Thompson to a max offer sheet. It seems unlikely, but Portland signed Enes Kanter to a max offer sheet earlier this summer before the Thunder matched, so we can’t entirely discount the idea. Here’s what Thompson would make on that:

Max offer sheet
2015/16: $16,407,500
2016/17: $17,145,838
2017/18: $17,844,175
2018/19: $18,622,513
Total: $70,060,025
(Estimated 2019/20 max: $28,822,000)

I added an estimate for the 2019/20 max for which Thompson would be eligible, for comparison’s sake, since an offer sheet could only extend for four years while a deal with the Cavs could run for five. If Thompson can get a max deal in 2019, the offer sheet would be more lucrative for him in the long run, though it’s difficult to project four years into the future.

Qualifying offer, then re-sign with Cavs
2015/16: $6,777,589
2016/17: $20,400,000 (figure based on projection)
2017/18: $21,930,000 (figure based on projection)
2018/19: $23,460,000 (figure based on projection)
2019/20: $24,990,000 (figure based on projection)
2020/21: $26,520,000 (figure based on projection)
Total: $124,077,589 (figure based on projection)

Finally, perhaps the most lucrative hypothetical involved would be one that Paul has said Thompson won’t consider. That would entail him playing on his qualifying offer this season and re-signing with the Cavs next summer. He would be able to take advantage of a surging salary cap to make a projected amount of more than $124MM over six years. The first five years of that scenario would add up to $97,557,589, greater than $3MM more than he would get if he simply signed a five-year, maximum-salary contract with the Cavs this summer.

Of course, that doesn’t take into consideration the estimated 2020/21 max of $30.235MM that Thompson could get if he signed a five-year deal with the Cavs this year. So, let’s say that Thompson signs in the next couple of weeks for five years at the max and comes up with another max deal when he hits free agency again in 2020. He’d make an estimated $124,578,125 over the next six seasons, roughly $500K more than he would make in that same period if he signed his qualifying offer and took the projected five-year max from the Cavs next year.

Still, the difference is miniscule enough to suggest that all the hand-wringing over the past two and a half months has been for little reason. Of course, the caveat is Cleveland’s willingness to do the max at any point. If the Cavs aren’t willing to pay Thompson the max now, it’s reasonable to assume they won’t be willing to do so next summer, especially when the max would entail a starting salary of about $4MM more. The luxury tax threshold is projected to be much higher for 2016/17, so that would alleviate some concern for Cleveland, but with a new contract for Timofey Mozgov due a year from now, and LeBron James poised to score yet another more lucrative max deal of his own, the payroll headaches figure to remain.

So, much of it largely comes down to the willingness of both sides to bet on whether Thompson can command the max from one team or another next year. Thompson and Paul seem ready to wager that he will. Soon, we’ll see if the Cavs follow suit.

Which of these scenarios above do you think is the most likely outcome? Leave a comment to share your thoughts.

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66 thoughts on “Contract Scenarios For Tristan Thompson

  1. Doug

    Let him walk. There is no way he is worth that much. If Toronto wants him so bad trade him there for DeRozan

    • Chuck Myron

      It might just come down to Thompson or DeRozan for the Raptors, since DeRozan can opt out next summer. We’ll see how Terrence Ross and DeMarre Carroll do this year, but it would be tough to envision Toronto turning its back on DeRozan.

    • Who would trade a borderline all star guard for an immensely overpaid forward? Toronto doesn’t want him rich Paul is just spinning tales again. The guys a sleaze bag.

    • Emery

      I agree 100% with you cuz the contract they’re trying to give him as a lot of money to he be a real picky they got other players I gotta feel if you want to champion chip stay with the cast

  2. Lebron jaymes

    TT is not a max player, if Lebron never came back, TT would still be on his usual salary – they should let him walk, give him one year at another team like Toronto and see what he does there compared to other max players, this dude needs to leave Cleveland ASAP, spend that 80 mill on a shooting guard, cavs have too many Big men and TT ain’t no max guy

    • Chuck Myron

      You make a good point. LeBron’s presence, and the fact that he and Thompson share an agent, seemingly has a lot to do with Thompson’s value to the Cavs.

    • Mang Inasal

      Yeah lebron’s good at making his teammates do good. Let’s see how he fits with toronto. We the north my ass.

    • Naomi

      I agree

  3. James

    TT’s game is very similar to that of Dennis Rodmans game. An excellent rebounder who could score a few points for you. Although I do think TT is a slightly better offensive player only because the majority of his points come off of his offensive rebounds. Did Rodman ever ask for Jordan Money? NO. And this is coming from a Cavs and a TT fan.

    • Ghjgs

      Exactly! Rodman made around $4 million a year with the Bulls.

    • Erika Wooten

      Maybe Rodman should have asked for Jordsn’s money cause he’s broke now

  4. Tavon

    Thompson signs qualifying offer, does but receive max offer. Looks stupid. Possibly kills his chances in Cleveland

  5. Tavon

    Thompson signs qualifying offer, does but receive max offer. Looks stupid. Possibly kills his chances in Cleveland.

    • Tavon

      *does not receive max

  6. Trent


  7. Bob herb

    Let Thompson and his agent Paul pack their asses up to Canada…he’s not any stretch of the imagination a max player….adios

  8. Chickennwaffle

    My prediction is that he signs the qualifying offer, then comes to the raptors on a cheaper deal than the max. He is probably just basically saying to the cavs that he wants to play for the raptors but if the cavs want to keep him they need to pay him the max

    • Slam

      Agreed!! He would just rather play with the raps! He’ll probably sign like a 4 year 70M just to play at home

  9. Andrew

    This is a great summary of strictly contract/salary info, but there’s no mention of factoring in what a hometown player could make in endorsements with an entire country behind him. If you look at the situation Paul seems to be angling for, the possibilities are endless. On any American team, Thompson will be a valuable player with a lucrative contract that likely takes a back seat to whoever he shares the line up with. In Toronto, there’s way more opportunities on and off the court. Anyone living here has seen the same recently with Russ Martin, Brett Lawrie, and the Jays – and those guys aren’t even from Toronto. Basketball is blowing up up here, and with the wave of young talent from TO and Canada rising to form the backbone of young stars in the NBA, it’s a wise move to lead the charge. Watch what happens with Cory Jo.

    • Jake

      I agree with what you are saying about the money for a Canadian born player playing in Toronto. Well said. As far as, Canadians forming the backbone of the NBA, you may want to expand your view. I’m a Wolves guy, love Wiggy, sorry he will never play for Toronto. That would have been cool for you. There is a lot of quality in the NBA right now. Only a few Canadian. That may change, but it isn’t right now.

      • Come on now

        You obviously aren’t familiar with Jamal Murray and Thon Maker. Go look them up. I don’t know about “backbone” but Canada could easily have a few all stars in the coming years, they currently have more players in the NBA than anybody outside of the US.

    • So sick of this guy

      It doesn’t matter that he was born there….he isn’t good enough to be a big target for endorsements. What is his selling point? Hey kids buy the new TT sneakers! Then you too can not play defence and just grab offensive rebounds! Nah I don’t think so. Like you said theres a huge wave of young talent coming in from Canada and the GTA in general. Don’t rush to overpay a mediocre(at best) player just because he’s from there.

  10. Double TT is a not worth it SOB !!!
    He is not worth the buck.
    Let him go.

  11. Drtwyman

    The Cavs have made a grest offer and if TT lets his agent guide him out, so be it and he’ll regret his mistake. Take the deal and improve your chances of winning the Championship.

  12. LRS70

    Save the $ to sign Mosgov next supper. Andy and Kevin play PF.

  13. TT is really starting to alienate Cavalier fans the longer Rich Paul plays the big $$$$$$$$ games. TT is a jerk for not accepting the invitation to LeBron’s training time in Miami. It was an opportunity to bond with his teammates and maybe improve his FT shooting and jump shot from beyond 10 ft. Now, I think it is too late. The fans and even some teammates will get on him for not being “ALL IN” and he will hear the boos every time he steps on the court.

  14. I’m baffled that there are a number of people who actually believe that Tristan will receive a max offer from anyone. As a Cavs fan who loves Tristan, I assure you that this is absolutely absurd. I will be seriously disappointed if the Cavs give in to his agent’s shenanigans. The $80 million offer was MORE than generous for a player of his caliber. While I don’t advocate being unnecessarily antagonistic in business negotiations, I’d be half-tempted to reduce my offer to the 4 year, $52 million deal they offered last October.

    • JohnnyBallgame

      Is he worth a max? Of course not, but in the NBA owners are contractually obligated to spend a certain percentage of money on player salaries. In the next few seasons when that number jumps, jumps and jumps again, almost every team will have a LOT of money to spend and there won’t be an entire league of free agents to spend it on. So, yes, its entirely possible that he gets more than one max offer due to his the good timing of his situation. This isn’t normal…. So don’t assume normal results.

    • Nick Wade

      I so agree with you dude. I’d yank that $80. Mil. offer off the table and let him & Rich P. get there $ elsewhere. TT’s absence will not break this team. But, I do say this if Toronto is willing to do a sign & trade with Derozen for TT I’d make that deal in a heart beat.
      We need a starting caliber two guard not another PF that won’t start for the Cavs.

  15. Robo

    Let him walk he is not worth that kind of money.

  16. janice

    Tt does not want to be a cav.Let him go to Canada for what ever they want to pay him, cause it is mot going to be the max. The fans arent dummys. He has showed everyone he does not want to be in Cleveveland. I dont even want him playing for the Qualifying Offer, like he doing the Cavs some kind of favor.Get him out of town as soon as possible!!!

  17. Erika Wooten

    This is a TEAM sport. Pay everyone the same

    • Ichjio

      Common mate. Not everyone carries that same load. Pay them what they deserve. TT deff not 80+ player, shiiiiii 80mil over 5years is generous!

    • Damn trolls

      Lol what a troll. Yeah pay Kent Bazemore the same as Anthony Davis. Very logical

  18. Erika Wooten

    Maybe he just want to go home. Can’t blame him for that. Seems like everyone wants to go home nowadays

  19. Andy

    If he doesn’t want to play on your team, then get rid of him. It’s simple.

  20. Russell

    Tristan will also play off the bench next year if he signs the qualifying offer, giving the Cavs the ability to sit him and devalue his stock. I think the Cavs shouldn’t feel obligated to give max money to a player that isn’t anywhere near worth the max. Tristan I believe is only hurting himself here.

  21. He’s not worth 80 mil on the Cavs. I wouldn’t want him for 80 mil on my Hornets

    • Ichjio

      lol if anything you need someone like that =D

      • Damn trolls

        Ill never understand why people feel the need to comment on something they don’t know about, just makes them look foolish. Charlotte has a glut of PFs right now and all of them are better than Thompson, including the one the just drafted.

  22. Alejandro

    Yes let him walk! He has no offensive game. He does not protect the rim like Moz. Cavs better not do this!

  23. jack

    Let him walk, don’t need the distraction

  24. Macky

    The Cavs should let TT walk and should not even give him a qualifying offer. He’s not worth keeping considering that Varejao and Kaun are now in board. The Cavs should instead look for a shooting guard or point guard to back up Kyrie or Smith.

    • JohnnyBallgame

      Yeah, I’m sure Lebron would be very comfortable relying on a guy who can’t stay healthy and a 30+ year old who’s never played in the NBA. Ultimately, letting him walk might be a smart decision, but the argument you use is lunacy.

    • Mang Inasal

      Will norris cole do? He’s gonna be free next year right?

  25. MO Williams was signed as a backup to Kyrie. If I was Gilbert I would either do a sign and trade with someone or let him walk.

    • JohnnyBallgame

      Except this year no one has cap space except Portland, and next year no team would have to give up anything in a sign and trade. Theyll be able to just sign him. Your proposal is not realistically plausible. Many folks say just pay that $80 to someone else or replace him, but it doesn’t work that way. The Cavs realistically have only the one trade exception with which to replace him… No picks and no cap space for years. They’re trying to win a title right now. All Thompson costs is Gilberts cash and they can hold the exception to use elsewhere. He has more leverage than most casual fans understand.

  26. willie carter

    Let Thompson go he is not that good lets see if he is really good or last year was fluke.

    • A fluke? he didn’t even have a good year…..

  27. Phil

    TT did squat before Bron came back..never pay him a max..he rebounded in playoffs..big whoopty doo..does that mean your worth 90 mill…nope!

  28. Bnice

    Yea I here what everyone is saying but to let young talent walk and rely heavily on injury prone love who still doesn’t quote fit in the big 3 is a gamble if TT walks.. I would pay him and somewhere down the line I would shop love or TT cause we all kno I’m not paying 2 power fowards that money and keep both be smart give him his money in the long run the bait u have to trade would be real good

  29. afu97

    ok… Shump got 4yrs $41M. a decent contract for the 4/5th man on a good team. So TT is walking away from 5yr $80M, to:
    1) get any of those ridiculous scenarios above
    2) risk QO of $6.8M to get and unlikely but achievable $18.3M per year just to match $80M but to join a crappy team.
    3) or most likely risk QO and then only get $10-12M per year only getting roughly $50.8M, or potentially much worse, and risk losing $30M that’s already on the table.

    I don’t buy it. Only way Rich Paul can negotiate like this is cuz he’s Lebron’s friend and based in Cleveland. Otherwise, the $80M would have been pulled long ago.

  30. The problem is the Cavs can not trade him if TT signs the qualifying offer, however if Toronto indeed wants to sign TT for the max, then perhaps the Cavs could sign TT for the max then trade him to Toronto for a couple of players. Not a bad idea if its possible to do so.

  31. Moving on

    Dear TT, if you were worth what you’re asking some other team would’ve offered you it. Cant even sign and trade you for what you’re asking…

  32. Mang Inasal

    The cavs can do better. Rebounding’s not the only factor in basketball.

  33. Are You All In,Or Nah?

    If he signs the qualifying offer then trade him.Otherwise let him walk. Because he will only be a distraction to the team and ruin the Cavs chances of winning their first title in history. He already skipped out on Lebron’s private training program in Miami. Face it. You’re either All In or you’re All Out.

  34. Willie L

    Bye Felicia

  35. Tuck

    I say let the big head go! His numbers won’t be much this year with Kevin back and who wants to play with a team member that thinks he’s better than everyone else. Such Arrogance shouldn’t be rewarded.

  36. Robert

    As great as Thompson played last year, he’s not a max player. And if he gets max from a crappy team and bolts, what does that say about his desire to be a winner? There’s more to bball than $ and how many millions does he need to be happy? I love his game but wonder about him as a person.

  37. Carole Pendleton

    Let Thompson leave, we have everything covered with the Cavs, he is not deserving of a max deal until he learn how to make free throws!!!

  38. Reggie

    Let hin walk

  39. David

    He’s a joke… Trade him ASAP… He’s not worth it…

  40. Is he crazy…this guy is not worth that much. Yes he’s a good player but $94mil is ridiculous!!!!

  41. Hes a good offensive rebounder but he is not a max player nobody new who he was before Lebron went back home

  42. Danny

    I applaud everyone who agrees that Thompson is not a max player and the Cavs should let him walk and save the money for Mozgov and another guard that can actually shoot and rebound. His stupidity and greed will be his downfall.

  43. In a word. ..NONE! !! TT will not get a Max deal ANYWHERE in the NBA.
    TT’S game is FAR TOO LIMITED to command a Max deal. If C-Town relents, they will, once again be the laughing stock of the NBA for bidding against themselves for a guy that will never start for the team.

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