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The Cleveland Cavaliers are still in contract negotiations with restricted free agent power forward Tristan Thompson, and there’s no end in sight.
Thompson and the Cavs have been in a staring contest all summer. After nearly agreeing to a five-year, $80 million contract, Thompson demanded a five-year, $94 million max, which the Cavs rejected.
The two sides since haven’t been able to come to an agreement. ESPN reported that Thompson lowered his demands to $54 million over three years – basically a max deal – but the Cavs didn’t agree to it.
Now, with training camp underway, the Cavs and Thompson are facing a tentative Thursday, October 1 deadline to come to a deal.
Under NBA rules, by October 1, Thompson can either take the one-year, $6.8 million qualifying offer to become a free agent again next year – something he’s threatened to do – or come to terms on a new deal with the Cavs. If they don’t, the Cavs can extend the deadline, which Larry Coon, author of the CBA FAQ, notes, is “rarely done.”
The Cavs and Thompson are an exception here. The Cavs will want to extend the deadline to keep Thompson a restricted free agent and limit his negotiating power. (A player’s original team can match any offer a restricted free agent gets.) Extending the deadline give the Cavs more time to iron out a deal with Thompson, or let him take the qualifying offer and report to camp.
While it’s not completely unusual for players to take the qualifying offer in order to hit unrestricted free agency the following offseason, Thompson’s situation has turned out different. If a player settles for the QO, it usually happens much earlier. New Bucks big man Greg Monroe turned down a deal from the Pistons last year and took a qualifying offer to become a free agent – but he did it in early September. Thompson and the Cavs are about go past a “rare” deadline, in the midst of training camp, without a deal.
Eventually Thompson will be back with the Cavs. Unless something wild happens where the Cavs renounce his rights and he becomes an unrestricted free agent, one side will have to blink first and Thompson will show up to camp with either long-term security or a one-year deal to prove himself worthy of a max deal.