Cavaliers' fiasco with Tristan Thompson sets bad precedent for the NBA

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After months of negotiating, bickering and public drama, the Cleveland Cavaliers agreed to terms with forward Tristan Thompson Wednesday to a five-year, $82 million deal.

The deal was officially announced by GM David Griffin on Thursday, via ESPN. 

As noted by ESPN, the contract will pay the Toronto native $16.4 million per season over the course of the contract - and make him the sixth-highest-paid power forward in the entire league. 


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Thompson took to social media after the deal became official:

But the pressing issue is how these long, drawn-out fiasco's might give players the forum to put unneeded attention on matters unrelated to basketball.

There's no denying that Thompson has a lot to offer on the court. Standing 6 feet, 9 inches tall with a strong presence in the low post, Thompson's rebounding ability is one of the best in the league. 

Last season, the University of Texas product averaged 8.0 rebounds and 8.5 points coming off the bench in Cleveland. He managed those totals by averaging just under 27 minutes per game -- the second-lowest average of his four-year career.

Thompson also played in all 82 of the Cavaliers games for a third straight season. But, it was his postseason performance that he was looking to cash-in on. 

With Kevin Love injured, Thompson stepped in as the Cavaliers' starting power forward and played exceptionally well. Through 15 playoff games, he averaged 9.6 points and 10.8 rebounds for a Cavaliers team decimated by injuries to Love, Anderson Varejão and Kyrie Irving.


Yet, for months, the talk surrounding the Eastern Conference champions was how their 24-year-old bench player wanted to be paid handsomely. The process dragged out so long, Thompson missed training camp and the preseason.

Also, Thompson and LeBron James share the same agent, Rich Paul. That connection between the team's star player and its top restricted free agent followed the team around. Seemingly annoyed with the questions, James voiced his preference to not comment on the matter.

"I probably won't address it again too much more," James told ESPN in September.

"Like I said, I'm optimistic that both sides will get something done and he'll be here sooner than later."

While James' opinion proved accurate, Cavaliers' coach David Blatt mentioned the stalemate between the organization and Thompson was hard on him as a coach.

"You know, for a coach, it's every day," Blatt said. "But I'd rather not think about the bad end of the expectation. I'm just hoping to see him here sooner than later, that's all."

No favors

Just because a player's financial demands were not being assuaged, does not mean the franchise should be subject to a media circus. But the Cavaliers did themselves no favors as their attempt in holding firm made them look like the clowns.

The Cavaliers pulled their original five-year, $80 million offer after Thompson's $6.8 million qualifying offer expired, per Dave McMenamin of ESPN. That gave the Cavaliers the edge in negotiations, as they were no longer obligated to offer him anything.

By declining the qualifying offer, Thompson could not become an unrestricted free agent next season and in layman's terms, was at the mercy of the Cavaliers.

Despite all of that, the Cavaliers not only re-signed him, but upped their original offer. By doing that, the club sets a bad precedent for the future. Players can use this as a blueprint in all future negotiations, believing they have leverage over their team no matter what.

And in a worst case scenario, a player can walk out of negotiations a considerably richer man, much like Thompson, who was reportedly looking for a max contract worth over $94 million. 

While Thompson is durable and talented, he isn't a difference maker who the Cavaliers needed to sign at-all-costs, especially with Love and Varejão healthy. Ultimately, they raised those costs themselves and gave their own mess an expensive conclusion. 

Cleveland Cavaliers
Central Division
Eastern Conference

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