FRIDAY, 8:07am: Thompson and his camp prefer a three-year max contract to the five-year max they sought most of the summer, league sources tell McMenamin. Thompson reportedly became willing to do a three-year max deal last week, but the Cavs are uninterested in such a proposal. The full value of the three-year max for Thompson would be precisely $52,914,188.
11:04pm: Thompson let the deadline pass without signing the qualifying offer, a source tells McMenamin (Twitter link). So, his choices are either to sign a long term deal with the Cavs, sign an offer sheet with another team, or continue to sit out. March 1st would be the last day for him to sign an offer sheet this season, if the saga dragged on that long, and if he held out all season, the Cavs would have the chance to issue another qualifying offer to renew his restricted free agency next July. Both the Cavs and Mark Termini, the negotiator for Paul and the Klutch Sports agency, which represents Thompson, have a history with holdouts, as Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today Sports points out.
2:54pm: The Cavaliers had until last night to extend tonight’s deadline, as former Nets executive Bobby Marks points out (Twitter link), and they decided against it, reports USA Today’s Jeff Zillgitt (Twitter link), so the clock ticks for Thompson.
THURSDAY, 2:36pm: The Cavs are operating on the assumption that Thompson will be with team in camp Friday, Griffin said today on NBA TV, according to Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon Journal. The qualifying offer disappears if Thompson doesn’t accept it by midnight Cleveland time tonight. He would remain a restricted free agent in that scenario. He would be free to re-sign with the Cavs or sign an offer sheet with another team, and Cleveland would retain the right to match any offer he signs. He would simply be unable to sign Cleveland’s qualifying offer.
“We fully expect he’ll be here in some form or fashion [on Friday] and we’re excited to get going,” Griffin told NBA TV. “We’re hopeful that he wants to move forward with his teammates in the same way we want to have Tristan here. If we can come to some agreement we will.”
MONDAY, 4:12pm: LeBron James expressed optimism that Tristan Thompson, who continues to linger in restricted free agency, will work out a new deal with the Cavaliers, and GM David Griffin conveyed similar sentiments at media day today, an event that Thompson didn’t attend. USA Today’s Jeff Zillgitt rounds up comments from Griffin and James.
“We feel very good about where this is because of who Tristan is and because of the competitor he is and because of the relationship he has with his teammates,” Griffin said.
Griffin said “nothing is lost by what Tristan is doing right now” and said that he doesn’t find his ongoing free agency a distraction, as Zillgitt also relays. Thursday is the final day that Thompson may accept his qualifying offer of nearly $6.778MM before it expires, barring the unlikely event that Cleveland decides to push that deadline back.
“Double T is a huge piece of our team, and he showed to the world how important he is in the postseason,” James said, according to Zillgitt. “I’m optimistic about him being back. All sides — the team, the organization, Tristan and myself — would love to have him for the long term.”
James, a fellow client of agent Rich Paul, added that he would not get involved in the negotiations, notes Dave McMenamin of ESPN.com (Twitter link), a stance he has maintained for months. James was reportedly planning to delay his signing until after Thompson signed his deal, but the four-time MVP instead inked a new contract with the Cavs in early July.
Griffin admitted he would have loved to have come to a deal with Thompson around that time. It appeared on the opening day of free agency that the sides were close on a five-year, $80MM deal, but the power forward instead has sought the max of around $94MM over five years. It again appeared the sides were close to a signing last week, but Thompson and the team still don’t see eye-to-eye. Thompson has threatened to sign his qualifying offer, which would entail a one-year contract, with Paul insisting he won’t re-sign with Cleveland as an unrestricted free agent if it comes to that. I broke down a handful of contract scenarios for the former No. 4 overall pick earlier this week.