NBA free agency 2015 was interesting, to say the least. From the DeAndre Jordan fiasco to the Lakers’ failed meetings with LaMarcus Aldridge, there was entertainment for NBA fans during the semi-dull offseason. There was no Kevin Durant in the free agent market, but there was still a fair amount of role players who could have an impact on a team. Among these role players was Tristan Thompson of the Cleveland Cavaliers, who made a name for himself in the 2015 NBA Finals.
Thompson certainly proved his value for the Cavs in the postseason, averaging 9.6 PPG and 10.8 RPG. However, the only reason he was able to garner so much playing time in the playoffs was because of Kevin Love’s injury in the first-round series against Boston. As a solid role player who demonstrated his rebounding ability in the Cavs’ postseason, Thompson certainly deserves a raise; but is he worth the maximum 5-year, $94 million he’s seeking?
Thompson reportedly turned down a 5-year, $80 million extension from the Cavs during the offseason. This is a hefty amount, considering Thompson rejected a 4-year, $52 million contract extension back in January. Although Thompson drew a lot of doubts at the time, he’s certainly proved that he’s worth more than that amount after his finals performance. However, an $80 million extension seems to be more than enough for a valuable bench player – we mustn’t forget that Love will be back in the starting lineup once the season starts.
Let’s put things into perspective. This summer’s offseason drew up a lot of talk about who is actually worth a maximum contract. With the NBA’s TV deals around the corner, teams were more concerned about keeping their players, regardless of the amount they were offering. This makes it confusing as to the caliber of the players who actually deserve a maximum contract. Here are some free agents that were signed this offseason.
|4-year, $80 million
|5-year, $85 million
|4-year, $88 million
|4-year, $70 million
|5-year, $90 million
All of the players listed above signed maximum deals. Obviously, there were different circumstances surrounding some of these players, since the Thunder were put in a difficult situation to match the Blazers’ offer for Kanter, and the Clippers did everything they possibly could to prevent Jordan from leaving.
However, there is one big difference between all of the players listed above and Thompson. At least the players listed are starters. Thompson may be a key role player, but he is still not at a high enough level to replace Love in the starting lineup, no matter how well he performed in the Finals. If Thompson can develop his offensive game, then he very well may be worth the maximum contract he wants, but that’s a big if. Until then, he still remains as a one-dimensional player with just a good rebounding ability. Is just the possibility of him improving his offensive game good enough for the Cavs to give him the maximum contract?
Not only that, the Cavs are already over the salary cap without resigning Thompson. By offering Thompson the maximum deal, they are put in a tight spot, especially when center Timofey Mozgov will hit the free agent market after this coming season.
Thompson may end up taking the one-year, qualifying offer if his agent, Rich Paul, and the Cavs can’t reach an agreement. This jeopardizes the chances of him remaining as a Cavalier long-term, as Paul has reportedly threatened that this season may very well be Thompson’s last in Cleveland.