Sunday, August 23, 2015

Full Court Press 8.24.15: The Tristan Thompson Saga

By @mrgroce

Before I get too deep into this article, allow me put out a disclaimer. I am NOT a fan of Tristan Thompson.

When the Cleveland Cavaliers drafted Tristan Thompson I wasn't happy. And during his first three seasons that I watched him perform, I was unhappy. This past season however, I found myself watching a guy that seemed as though he found his place on the court.

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?

The answer to each one of those questions, is yes.

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.

In the NBA, you first become a restricted free agent and if a long term contract cannot be agreed upon, the player will then become an unrestricted free agent the following summer. So far, no other team has offered Thompson a contract. The other teams know that Tristan probably does not want to leave. Once you add the fact that Thompson is represented by the same agency that reps Thompson's teammate LeBron James, franchises spent their free agency money elsewhere figuring that there was no need to waste their time. LeBron has made it clear that he wants Tristan to remain a Cavalier and has stated publicly that the team needs to do whatever it takes to keep him.

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.


The Cavaliers are already strapped for cash after re-signing James, starting shooting guard Iman Shumpert, Kevin Love, point guard Matthew Dellavedova, veteran swingman Richard Jefferson and sharp shooter JR Smith. It's been reported that the Cavs wanted to sign Tristan to a deal closer to the $80 million range, but thanks in large part to guys like Enes Kanter (4-year $70 million), Brandon Knight (5-year $70 million), Wes Matthews (4-year $70 million, still recovering from a torn achilles), and Draymond Green (5-year $82 million), Tristan feels that he's just as good or better than those guys and is deserving of that type of money.

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.

I would have no problem letting him walk and doing everything that I could possibly do to keep Timofey Mosgov, the Cavaliers center who is set to become a free agent next season. I can find a 6'10” guy who rebounds and hustles anywhere, but a true 7 footer who has the potential to average 17 points and 10 boards while also being a legit rim protector, I just can't let walk away.

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.

No comments:

Post a Comment