The Cleveland Cavaliers are at a fork in the road when it comes to Tristan Thompson. The power forward is well aware how much his stock rose during the playoffs following the injury to Kevin Love and he intends to get paid for it. However, the Cavaliers are only capable of offering so much to the young player as they come to a standstill with contract negotiations. If the two sides are unable to agree on a new contract, will the Cavaliers be forced to trade the power forward sometime mid-season?
According to ESPN's Brian Windhorst, the Cavaliers and Thompson are $14 million apart in trade talks that are not progressing. Thompson is a restricted free agent aiming to get paid now and not later. Windhorst writes the Cavaliers are standing firm at their offer of five years and $80 million. Thompson wants a max contract worth $94 million over that stretch of time and has no intentions backing down from that demand. These talks have been ongoing since July and are simply not progressing which could force the Cavaliers to make some hard calls.
If the two sides fail to reach an agreement, Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that Thompson will sign the one-year qualifying offer of $6.9 million and then leave the franchise in the offseason. Thompson's agent Rich Paul told the media that his client will not re-sign with the Cavaliers if he fails to earn the max contract this season. The issue is the Cavaliers are offering Thompson market value and he believes he is worth more. The Cavaliers' offer is in line with what Draymond Green and Jonas Valanciunas signed respectively.
If Thompson stays true to his word of leaving in 2016, the Cavaliers will get nothing in return for a top draft pick. That is not ideal. Could the Cleveland Cavaliers be forced to trade Thompson as a result? This has yet to be discussed as the Cavaliers remain hopeful of getting a deal done, but the franchise might be forced to take a similar route to that of the Timberwolves with Love or the Boston Celtics with Rajon Rondo.
This would not make LeBron James happy. James, who is also represented by Paul, has made it clear the Cavaliers need to get this contract done. RealGM.com is reporting that James is staying out of the way when it comes to the negotiations for Thompson. He has commented once on social media stating that Thompson was a big reason the Cavaliers were successful last year, but other than that he is staying quiet. Right now the franchise star is in Miami with his teammates working out before training camp and Thompson is not present.