The Cleveland Cavaliers and Tristan Thompson remain far apart in contract talks and that makes the qualifying offer deal more likely than a long term extension for the forward. Thompson skipped workouts with LeBron James in Miami ahead of training camp, while Kevin Love is expected to be healthy for camp after shoulder surgery in the offseason.
The Cavaliers have been one of the most active teams in the league this summer and the last piece remaining on the market is Thompson. Thompson is a restricted free agent, but so far no team has come close to giving him an offer sheet for the Cavs to match. Thompson and the Cavs reportedly were close to a deal early in the summer, but Thompsons's camp rejected that deal, according to Chris Haynes at Cleveland.com.
Training camp starts in a week and Thompson remains unsigned and that could lead to Thompson signing the qualifying offer over a long term deal. According to Brian Windhorst at ESPN, the Cavaliers and Thompson have a $14 million gap in negotiations and that could keep the sides from getting a long term deal done. Thompson reportedly is looking for a max contract, while the Cavaliers have stuck with their main offer of five years and $80 million.
The gap between those numbers has caused the sides to have "limited to zero communication" over the last month, according to Haynes. Bleacher Report and other outlets have reported that Thompson's agent Rich Paul is looking for a max deal at $94 million from the Cavaliers. Paul reportedly thinks that teams will offer Thompson a max deal on the market next summer, including the Toronto Raptors. If Thompson signs the qualifying offer, he will be an unrestricted free agent next offseason.
The qualifying offer deadline is coming up just after camp starts and if Thompson opts to sign that deal, he will make around $7 million for the season. The Cavs want to keep Thompson, but the team just gave a max deal to Kevin Love and they may not want to put that much money into one position. The Cavs also signed back LeBron James, Matthew Dellavedova, Iman Shumpert, James Jones and JR Smith this offseason.
Last season Thompson was crucial when Kevin Love went down with an injury and he has a high upside as a young player, but clearly the Cavs are hoping to avoid another max deal right now. Thompson could be a threat to leave if he doesn't sign long term and while that could be an issue for LeBron James, he likely will not leave Cleveland over that situation.
James held pre-camp workouts in Miami with Love, Kyrie Irving, Iman Shumpert, Joe Harris and other teammates, but Thompson did not attend, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Kevin Love said while appearing on late night TV that he is healthy and ready to come back and that he expects to play in the season opener for the Cavs. Love had shoulder surgery this summer after being injured in the first round of the playoffs.