Before I get too deep into this article, allow me put out a disclaimer. I am NOT a fan of Tristan Thompson.
Could it be that he finally "figured things out"? Could it be that observing a guy like Kevin Love in practice on a daily basis gave him insight on how a power forward should perform? Could it be that the point guards on the team LOVE throwing him lob passes? Could it be that the best player in the world came home and took the pressure off of the #4 overall pick in the 2011 draft?
Now I won't allow my prejudice to outweigh my professionalism. Tristan works hard and has improved, while adding something to his game every season. Without him, an argument could be made that the Cavaliers would not have made it as far as they did this past season. But now, as usual, we have a scenario in which a player has his best season and is now ready to be compensated.
The problem with that is Tristan wants a "max" deal which would call for 5 years $94 million dollars, for a backup power forward/center, who last season averaged 8.5 points and 8 rebounds.
On the surface, he is absolutely correct. All of those guys are overpaid and only Green meant more to his team than Thompson did. But in today's NBA, guys are paid based on potential and "market value”, not on productivity. One could and will make the argument that with the salary cap getting set to explode after next season, giving Tristan upwards of $90 million now will look like a bargain compared to the $100 million plus he'd command on the open market as an unrestricted free agent next year.
The Cavaliers have a very bright future with a core signed and ready to compete for a chance to win multiple championships. David Griffin, the team's second year GM, must not allow James to influence how he builds this team. Griffin has so far made all of the right moves and I trust him to make the right call when it comes to dealing with Thompson. If I was the one advising Thompson, I'm pretty sure that I would let him know that he is eligible to receive a contract of $90 million, but I would also remind him of how he played before LeBron, Love and Mosgov showed up in Cleveland. I would then whisper in his ear that the original hustler/rebounder/fan favorite, Anderson Varejeo, will be back this year.
Hopefully he'd come to his senses and realize $80 million isn't all that bad after all.