The Cleveland Cavaliers are working to sign back Tristan Thompson to a contract extension this offseason, but talks have been slow and he could look at signing his qualifying offer instead and this comes as the Cavs have also been interested in bringing back JR Smith and if that doesn't happen, a trade for Jamal Crawford could be an option.
The Cavaliers and Thompson have been talking all offseason and while early reports had a deal close to getting done, things have not played out that way so far. According to ESPN.com, Brian Windhorst reports that there is a "stalemate" between the Cavaliers and Thompson over a contract, as there is "no clear precedent" for the position that Thompson has been in. Thompson has shown flashes of being a top player even with Kevin Love in the mix and now Thompson reportedly wants a deal around $94 million, which is the near max.
There were reports that the sides were close to a deal worth $80 million, but ESPN reports that "no real progress" has happened in talks since July. According to Sportsnet's Michael Grange, Thompson may consider signing the qualifying offer with the Cavaliers this season and if that happens, he "will not return to the Cavs" next year. Thompson and the Cavs looked like they would get a deal done, but Chris Haynes of Cleveland.com reports that there is a "gap" between what Thompson wants and what the team is offering.
Thompson is in an odd spot, as he has shown potential for being a starting player, but with the Cavs he simply doesn't have that chance. Kevin Love is a starter and Timofey Mozgov has proven to be integral for the team ta center. Thompson comes in after averaging 8.5 points and 8.0 rebounds per game last season. Smith is also expected to return, but the sides are not close to finalizing a deal yet.
LeBron James has said publically that he expects Thompson to return and that the team should sign him back, but if it's on the qualifying offer, things could get dicey moving forward. Grange writes that if Thompson ends up on the qualifying deal, it likely would be his "last year" in Cleveland. The offer would be for $6.8 million and Thompson could end up getting more money in free agency, but he also risks getting injured and anything else that can happen.
The salary cap is about to get a bump and that could get Thompson to get even more money and have more teams in the mix to sign him. There is a chance that all of this is a power play, as Pro Basketball Talk reports that agent Rich Paul could be trying to get the Cavs to reach his number, using this as leverage. If Thompson ends up signing the QO, the Cavaliers cannot trade him without approval and the team could risk losing him altogether.
Pro Basketball Talk points out that Eric Bledsoe was in a similar situation last year and is a Paul client and he ended up getting his deal. The Cavs also are trying to sign back JR Smith and Haynes reports that Jamal Crawford could be a trade target. The team wants to add more wing scoring and bench depth and Crawford could be a fit for one of the Cavs' trade exceptions.