Tag Archives: Cleveland Cavaliers

IS TRISTAN THOMPSON TRYING TO GET OUT OF CLEVELAND?

By any objective statistical or mathematical measure, Tristan Thompson is being unreasonable. The restricted free agent, entering his fifth year in the Association, is reportedly seeking north of Thompson$90 million to return to Cleveland, the only NBA home he’s known to this point in his career. Thompson’s sky-high salary demands are the reason he remains as perhaps the highest-profile free agent left on the market.

Having already signed starting power forward Kevin Love to a monster deal that extends through the 2019-20 season, it would be understandable if the Cavs decided they did not want to spend that kind of cash on Love’s backup. However, by even entertaining Thompson’s position, the Cavs have shown that they are committed to trying to bring him back. This commitment is undoubtedly motivated by Thompson’s inspired play during the Cavs’ run to the finals, lingering questions about Love’s health and fit with the team, Thompson’s unique skill-set, specifically his status as the game’s foremost offensive rebounder and LeBron’s insistence on the importance of keeping Thompson in the fold.

While the Cavs are committed to Thompson, there may be reason to question whether his Lebronoutlandish salary demands may be motivated by his desire to play somewhere else. The opportunity to play with a transcendent talent like Lebron and compete for a title every year is nothing to walk away from lightly, but when we look at where Thompson currently fits on the Cavs’ roster, and his likely standing in the years to come, we begin to see some method to Thompson’s salary-demand madness.

The Cavs picked Thompson with the 4th overall pick in the 2011 draft. After a solid rookie campaign, he came into his own during his sophomore season, starting every game and averaging over 31 minutes per contest. Thompson also started all 82 games in his third year, and slightly increased his playing time. Over his second and third seasons, Thompson averaged nearly 12 points per game and over 9 rebounds, turning himself into a solid, if unspectacular, post player.

Things changed dramatically for the Cavs, and for Thompson personally, last off-season. With the addition of Lebron and, more importantly for Thompson’s fortunes, Kevin Love, Thompson saw a significant fall in his importance to the team. He went from starting all 82 games to only 15, and his Loveminutes fell by five per game. Along with his minutes, Thompson’s scoring and rebounding also fell, as did his shot attempts, dropping from 9.3 per game to a mere 6.0.

Thompson has never complained publicly about his role on the team, but with Kevin Love signing a massive, five-year deal, Thompson would be right to be concerned about the direction his career will take if he remains in Cleveland. Love will be the starting power forward in Cleveland as long as he remains a Cav. Because neither Thompson nor Love can defend elite level centres (or elite-level anythings in Love’s case) for long stretches, Thompson is unlikely to play much alongside Love. This means that Thompson’s reduced minutes and role are likely to persist as long as he remains a Cav – and potentially get worse if Love can stay healthy.

Considering that Thompson is already 24 years of age, a long-term deal in Cleveland would mean that he would be confined to the Cavs’ bench for some of what should be the most productive years of his career. This would be a hard pill to swallow for a player that clearly sees himself as a legitimate NBA starter. It would also mean that, as Thompson hits his late twenties and potentially his best and last chance at a big pay-day, he will be best known as Kevin Love’s backup and not inTristan a position to command anywhere near the kind of money he might have been able to get as a 7 or 8 year starter. For that reason, from an individual standpoint, it’s almost a no-brainer for Thompson to get himself out of Cleveland just as fast as he can.

If Thompson does not sign a long-term deal with the Cavs’ this off-season, he is likely to end up playing on a one year qualifying offer next year before becoming a restricted free agent in the 2016 off-season. While it would cost him some money up front, this may be the best outcome of all for Thompson in the long-term. A one-year deal would keep him in Cleveland for 2015-2016, allowing him to quite possibly be a part of a championship team, which will only increase his value on the free agent market. Then, with the salary cap going through the roof in a year’s time, Thompson would likely command an even bigger deal than the one he’s reportedly seeking from Cleveland, and do so as a key part of a team – perhaps his hometown Raptors, still in need of a starting power forward – where a starting role and all the minutes he can handle are assured.

While Tristan Thompson may ultimately happily commit to Cleveland for the long-term, he should certainly do so with some trepidation regarding the impact of that decision on his career and future financial prospects. If he is going to go that route, and pass on being an unrestricted free agent in 2016, he is right to expect to be well compensated for giving up that opportunity.

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The Meddling Doctor Rivers

Doc Rivers is a good coach and, by all accounts, a decent human being, but he needs to learn to respect an agreement.DR

On July 3rd, DeAndre Jordan verbally committed to signing a four-year deal with the Dallas Mavericks. This was a major coup for the Mavs and a massive set-back for the Clippers – threatening to dislodge them from their spot as a perennial contender in the ultra-competitive western conference.

Some kind of drastic action was necessary, but what Doc and the Clips chose to do was all wrong.

Rather than respect the deal reached by DJ and the Mavs, the Clippers chose not to accept Jordan’s decision, and sought to undermine the agreement by taking advantage of the senseless moratorium on finalizing free agent deals and continuing to pursue DJ even after he had committed to the Mavs.

As we all know, the Clippers ultimately succeeded in this effort and, on July 8th, DJ backed out of the deal with the Mavs and committed to remaining in LA. Marc Cuban’s hurt feelings aside, thisCuban became a huge problem for the Mavs. When DJ committed, they presumably stopped chasing their second, third and fourth choice free agents. By the time they learned of DJ’s change of heart, those guys would have been snapped up by other teams. While the Mavs ultimately managed an upgrade at the point guard position by taking Deron Williams off the Nets’ hands, they are nowhere near the team they would have been with Jordan, and are likely to find themselves battling to make the playoffs this season.

Admittedly, we are told that Jordan initiated the renewed discussions with the Clippers and, of course, because of the moratorium, Jordan had the right to back out of his deal in Dallas. Nevertheless, the actions of Doc and the Clippers were entirely inappropriate.

Wizards v/s Clippers 03/12/11Upon being approached by Jordan, the Clippers should have told him that they were not prepared to speak to him as long as he had an outstanding verbal commitment to another team. Jordan could then have made the decision to tell the Mavs he has withdrawing his verbal commitment and would continue to speak with other clubs.

Shockingly, this is the second time in less than a year we have seen this kind of underhanded behaviour from Rivers. When Kendrick Perkins signed with the Cavs after being waived by Utah, Rivers reportedly continued to pursue Perkins even after he had committed to Cleveland, again seeking to undermine an agreement between another club and a player.

NBA teams like the Mavs and the Cavs need to know that, once they’ve made a deal with a player, Feb 26, 2015; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers center Kendrick Perkins (3) reacts in the second quarter against the Golden State Warriors at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sportsit will be respected, and that other clubs won’t try to steal committed players out from under them. The NBA, whether formally or informally, needs to censure Rivers for his  behaviour. Because of the formal moratorium, there isn’t much the NBA can do, unless it wants to change that rule (which it should). The rest of the league, however, can institute its own discipline, and if I was an NBA GM, it would be a long time before I was willing to have any kind of trade discussions with Doc or the Clippers.