Contract negotiations between the Cleveland Cavaliers and free agent LeBron James haven’t begun, according to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst.
While everyone considers LeBron re-signing with the Cavs a mere formality, negotiations are on hold for now.
Windhorst reports that LeBron’s agent, Rich Paul, has “made it known” that no talks will take place until free agent Tristan Thompson gets a new deal. Paul represents both Thompson and the four-time NBA MVP.
ESPN originally reported that Thompson and the Cavs had “essentially come to terms” on a five-year, $US80 million contract on the first day of free agency. However, talks have reportedly broken down since then. Windhorst reports that the two sides are now no longer currently talking, and, until they do so, neither is LeBron.
“LeBron has made it clear, ‘Look we’re not going to talk until Tristan Thompson is done.’ Here’s the problem, Cavs talks with Tristan Thompson have stalled,” Windhorst said. “They’re going to have to get figure something out with Tristan Thompson before LeBron James. That’s leverage. And Tristan Thompson, his agent Rich Paul, and LeBron James are playing that game right now.”
LeBron has said he wants the Cavs to keep Thompson long term, telling the media Thompson should play out his entire career in Cleveland.
If the Cavs do eventually come to terms with both Thompson and LeBron, it will force owner Dan Gilbert to pay one of the largest luxury tax bills in NBA history. The Cavs have already dished out $US150 million to retain both power forward Kevin Love and shooting guard Iman Shumpert. If Thompson re-signs for $US80 million, and LeBron signs another one-year contract in the $US22 million range, the Cavs payroll will likely exceed $US100 million for the upcoming season — resulting in a massive luxury tax payment.
And that’s only for retaining their own players. That bill may increase even more as the Cavs are reportedly trying to trade for seven-time All Star Joe Johnson. The 34-year-old Johnson is set to make nearly $US25 million for the upcoming season.
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