As most of us now know, the seemingly unending contract dispute between the Cleveland Cavaliers and restricted free agent Tristan Thompson finally came to a conclusion last night. After over five months of back-and-forth among the two sides, word broke Thompson and Cleveland have agreed on a five-year, $82 million contract. The final number was higher than the Cavs’ initial $80 million offer, but less than the $94 million max offer Thompson was after.
When things like these finally come to an end, people tend to try and figure out who won the dispute. Some are saying the Cavs won this standoff, mainly due to the fact they avoided buckling to Thompson’s demands of a max contract. Others believe Thompson pulled off the win due to the fact he’s being overpaid by Cleveland.
The truth in all of this is actually much simpler: nobody won this standoff.
Is it exciting for the Cavs to at long last have their Finals roster back in tact? Of course. Re-signing Thompson was a huge item on the team’s to-do list, as he’s coming off an incredibly productive postseason.
That said, just because the Cavs were able to avoid giving Thompson a max contract nobody truly felt he deserved, it hardly means the team won this negotiation.
Remember, with this deal, Thompson is now the sixth highest paid power forward in the NBA. Keep this in mind when you realize he’ll be coming off the bench. Despite his playoff performance, Thompson is clearly going to slot back behind Kevin Love on the power forward depth chart. Therefore, Cleveland is shelling out $82 million to its sixth man.
They’re also paying this amount to someone who, while very talented, still has some flaws. Though he’s a solid defender and a tenacious rebounder, Thompson leaves a lot to be desired on offense. He’s averaging 10.1 PPG for his career, and is hardly someone you can run an offense through. Additionally, the sizable amount of time it takes for him to gather and shoot results in a high amount of his shots being blocked.
I’m not dumping on Thompson, merely pointing out the fact Cleveland is certainly guilty of overpaying him. No, the team didn’t give in to Thompson’s ludicrous request for a max deal. Still, it’s tough to believe the line of other teams who’d match this contract is a long one.
So, clearly since Thompson is getting more money than he might truly deserve, he should be the true victor here, right?
This is debatable, as well. Sure, $82 million is a ton of money. Just remember, though, it’s about $12 million less than Thomson was angling for.
Up until last night, Thompson refused to budge from his request of $94 million. Despite the fact you could easily argue Thompson isn’t a max player, it didn’t stop him from making $94 million the one and only number he’d accept for the past few months.
Remember, too, Thompson and his agent Rich Paul‘s attempt to claim they would only accept a max, and if it came down to signing a qualifying offer, Thompson would flee Cleveland the following summer. In the end, it was an ill-fated attempt at finding leverage as a restricted free agent. Still, it just goes to show how hell-bent Thompson was to get the amount of money he wanted.
$82 million is a significant raise for Thompson, but it wasn’t what he spent five months trying to get. In that sense, while Thompson got a ton of money, his campaign to get a max deal ended in a loss.
Now, this isn’t to damper what happened last night. A Thompson holdout would’ve been a dark cloud over a season in which the Cavs are trying to bring the city of Cleveland its first title since 1964. It also would’ve been an unnecessary distraction for however long it would’ve ended up lasting. That this all finished up before the regular season kicked off is definitely a team-wide victory.
However, neither side is the real winner in this. The Cavs overpaid, Thompson buckled. While each side was able to get its way in some sense, nothing about this was a lop-sided victory for either.