The Cleveland Cavaliers have brought back several of their big free agents in Kevin Love, Iman Shumpert, and now LeBron James.
The timing of James’ signing is puzzling, however, because the belief was that he would wait to re-sign until the Cavs brought back his entire supporting cast.
A week ago, Tristan Thompson seemed like part of that group when it was reported that he and the Cavs were nearing an $US80 million contract.
Since then, talks have suddenly gone silent, and nobody knows the status of Thompson’s free agency. Thompson is a restricted free agent, meaning the Cavaliers can match any offer he gets, and he’s represented by Rich Paul, LeBron’s agent and childhood friend, so the belief was this would get done quickly. The sudden stall-out is puzzling.
On July 6, Chris Haynes of the Northeast Ohio Media Group reported that James’ deal wouldn’t get done until Thompson was signed:
On a brighter note, dialogue between the sides is active and ongoing. But according to a league source with knowledge of the proceedings, “There’s a lot of talking, but no one is saying anything.”
With talks stalled, it prevents the Cavaliers from executing the re-signing of LeBron James, whom Paul also represents. Paul has made it clear that Thompson is his main focus. Getting Thompson finalised is essential in moving the Cavaliers’ offseason strategy along.
The longer James, the undisputed best player in the game, is dangling out there unsigned, it’s only a matter of time before frustration starts to creep into the superstar if it hasn’t already done so.
Something seems to have changed since then. ESPN’s Dave McMenamin reported that James’ deal on Thursday didn’t necessarily mean Thompson’s was on the way:
Source tells ESPN that there is no Tristan Thompson deal imminent w/ CLE just because of the LeBron agreement: “Not a package”
— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) July 9, 2015
USA Today’s Sam Amick wrote that it is “notable” that James would commit before Thompson’s deal is done.
Thompson being a restricted free agent is the big kicker here. The Cavs can match any offer he receives, so it’s possible the two sides disagreed on a price, and the Cavs told him to go find an offer for what he wants and then Cleveland can match. James may have signed before Thompson under the idea that Thompson’s deal will get done eventually.
However, it is interesting that it has gone on this long. LeBron has an unprecedented amount of power within the Cavs, and the negotiations between Thompson, someone James said should be a Cav for life, Paul, and the Cavs could create tension.
It’s almost certain that Thompson will re-sign with the Cavs, if only because they can match any offer he gets, and they’d be crazy to upset LeBron by letting Thompson go. What will be worth monitoring is how long these negotiations drag out, and if it ends up being a shorter deal than expected, thus making Thompson an unrestricted free agent sooner.
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