INDEPENDENCE, Ohio -- The Cleveland Cavaliers’ message on Friday, considered the first official day that Tristan Thompson’s contract standoff with the team escalated to a “holdout” situation, was loud and clear:
If you are not going to be present for training camp, you are not going to be weighing on our minds.
“Right now, my thoughts are just about the guys that are here and how hard and how well they are working and no specific expectation otherwise,” said Cavs coach David Blatt when asked for his reaction to Thompson letting the Cavs’ one-year, $6.8 million qualifying offer for this season expire at 11:59 p.m. ET on Thursday without accepting it. “Just happy to see our guys working as well as they are."
Blatt punctuated his indifference towards the free agent big man by revealing he didn’t even bother to stay up late Thursday night to find out Thompson’s decision.
“I was liking the dream I was having,” Blatt said with a wry smile. “Usually I don’t go to sleep that early, but last night I was tired. We’re just back at it. We’ve got to focus on the now and here and that’s what we’re doing.”
The Cavs spent Friday removing Thompson’s likeness from any signage that adorns Quicken Loans Arena, as captured in a tweet by Northeast Ohio Media Group’s Chris Haynes:
An elevator at The Q is getting a facelift today... pic.twitter.com/naNoWilFjl
— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) October 2, 2015
They also removed all Thompson-related merchandise from the team stop at The Q as well as from their online store. Per league rules, a team cannot use a player that is not under contract for promotional or revenue-generating purposes.
With the qualifying offer off the table, negotiations will shift to both sides focusing on a multi-year agreement. Thompson’s agent, Rich Paul, recently vacated a five-year, $94 million max contract demand for his client in favor of a preferred three-year, $53 million deal, per league sources. The Cavs have already tendered a five-year, $80 million offer to Thompson, according to sources.
Friday was the fourth consecutive day of camp that Thompson missed, however Blatt was adamant that the big man’s absence has not caused a distraction as his team readies itself for the regular season.
"We got a veteran group,” Blatt said. “We got a very professional group of guys going about their business and going about their jobs the way that they should. The team is working and we are going to continue to do so."