Agent Rich Paul has heard from three teams that are willing to offer a maximum-salary contract to Tristan Thompson next summer if he hits unrestricted free agency, sources tell Michael Scotto of SheridanHoops (Twitter link). Paul reportedly believes he can get a max deal from the Raptors for Thompson, a Toronto native, but it’s unclear if they are one of the three. The Trail Blazers and Sixers are the only teams capable of coming close to what the Cavs have offered this year, so Cleveland would appear to be largely in control of Thompson’s fate for the coming season. However, Paul has said that Thompson, who’s lingered in restricted free agency since July 1st, wouldn’t re-sign with the Cavs next summer if he were to sign his one-year qualifying offer of nearly $6.778MM, which is on the table from the Cavs until the end of this month.
The Cavs and Thompson’s camp have had little communication, if any, of late amid a separation of some $14MM in their respective proposals, as Chris Haynes of the Northeast Ohio Media Group and the Cleveland Plain Dealer told us last week. Thompson is looking for a five-year max deal, which would be worth $94,343,129, and the Cavs have offered $80MM over five years.
The value of Thompson’s qualifying offer is nearly $10MM less than what he would make on the starting salary of a max deal, but the power forward could nonetheless benefit financially from taking the qualifying offer if max offers from other teams are indeed waiting for him next year. Max salaries go up in accordance with the salary cap, and with the cap set to spike for 2016/17, next summer’s projected maximum for a player with Thompson’s experience is $20.4MM. With 4.5% raises over a four-year contract, the best terms he could get if he doesn’t re-sign with Cleveland, a max deal with a new team next summer would be worth a total of $87.108MM, based on that $20.4MM starting salary projection. Combined with the qualifying offer, Thompson would make almost as much going that route as he would signing a five-year max with Cleveland this year.
Of course, much can change between now and next July, and teams currently willing to pay the max have the right to change their minds based on Thompson’s performance this season as well as their own financial circumstances. Interest at the level of salaries exceeding $20MM seem tenuous at best for a player who came off the bench for most of this past season and scored only 8.5 points per game, despite his pedigree as the No. 4 overall pick in 2011. The Cavs have Kevin Love and Timofey Mozgov at the inside positions, so Thompson would seemingly be in line for a return to the bench after he started in place of an injured Love during the postseason.
Do you think teams will be willing to offer Tristan Thompson the max next summer? Leave a comment to share your thoughts.