Since free agency began on July 1, Tristan Thompson has made it no small secret that after the season he had for the Cleveland Cavaliers, he wants to get paid. Early on, he rejected an initial five-year, $80 million offer, instead requesting a max contract in excess of $94 million. Negotiations have been in this stalemate for two months and now agent Rich Paul is looking for collateral. Enter the Toronto Raptors.
Report: Tristan Thompson won’t accept less than max from Cavaliers, his agent thinks Raptors will offer it next… http://t.co/ymf4bLlMJD— Kurt Helin (@basketballtalk) August 31, 2015
According a report from Ric Bucher at Bleacher Report, Paul believes that if Cleveland doesn't offer the max, the Raptors will in the summer of 2016. Paul and Thompson aren't accepting a penny less than the max from Cleveland, so if it comes to it, Thompson will sign a qualifying offer and enter unrestricted free agency in 2016. He would be entering a pool where many teams have the flexibility to make a max offer, but this is the first time any one team has been named above others.
For Paul, one of the premier agents in NBA circles, naming a definite alternative is probably an attempt to scare the Cavaliers into paying Thompson what he wants. Dan Gilbert is already up to his ears in luxury tax and adding Thompson to that pile may be a necessary evil of chasing a championship, especially with an end to LeBron James' prime in sight.
It's interesting, though, to see this from the Raptors perspective. Thompson fills the traditional power forward hole on the roster, but at what cost? A max contract in 2016 will be significantly higher and Toronto would certainly have to let DeMar DeRozan walk (at the least) to get a Thompson deal done. Many words have been committed to Masai Ujiri's planning on this site, with a very convincing argument that the summer of 2017 has better building potential than 2016.
In the 2015 playoffs, Thompson showed the ability to be the best rebounder in the NBA, especially on the offensive end. He's an energy player with an extremely limited offensive game, averaging 8.5 points and eight rebounds last season. With these numbers, you don't need to go far to see how divided people are over his possible max contract status. If the Raptors were to give him what he desires next summer, they would have to be sure of his potential. If that's the case, the 2015-16 season will be extremely instructive.
So, do you think the Raptors should chase Tristan Thompson in 2016?