The Cavs’ $6.8 million qualifying offer to Thompson for the 2015-16 season, which would make him an unrestricted free agent next summer should he choose to accept it, expires at 11:59 p.m. ET on Thursday.
If the offer expires without Thompson accepting, the Cavs and Thompson’s representative, Rich Paul, will still be free to negotiate a long-term deal. However, Thompson would ostensibly lose some leverage, as he would no longer be able to unilaterally take the one-year deal for this season without Cleveland agreeing to put it back on the table.
Cleveland has already offered Thompson a five-year, $80 million contract, according to sources. Last week, Paul shifted his demands from a five-year, $94 million deal for his client to at three-year, $53 million offer, according to sources.
Paul previously told ESPN and other media outlets that should Thompson enter into the ’15-16 season on a qualifying offer, there is no way his client would re-sign with the Cavaliers in the summer of 2016 regardless of how much money was presented to him.
There is hope within the Cavs organization that Thompson will want to iron out a deal rather than enter into a protracted holdout situation that causes him to miss even more training camp, according to sources.
The Cavs franchise has experience with players holding out, notably in the beginning of the 2007-08 season, when swingman Sasha Pavlovic missed all of training camp as he awaited a more amenable offer and center Anderson Varejao sat out until mid-December before striking a deal.
“Well, it wasn’t easy for me to be away the way I was,” Varejao said Thursday. “I probably missed the first 21 games, if I remember. But I had to do it. I had to do it back then because I felt like I was disrespected with the offer they offered me. But I don’t really know what’s going on with Tristan right now. The numbers [of the contract] and stuff, I’m not sure. But I’m pretty confident that he will be here soon.”
Cavs forward James Jones, who also serves as the secretary-treasurer of the NBA Players’ Association, said that Thompson’s teammates aren’t taking his absence personally.
“First thing’s first, we understand that this is a business and once the business is taken care of we can come in and work on the floor,” Jones said. “So until that’s resolved, he’s handling his business and we support him 100 percent. At the same time, the guys that are here, we’re working, and we have a goal and a mission and we’re not going to let anything stop us from focusing. We’re staying on course …
“Once you take care of the business, when all the guys are here, we’ll saddle up, we’ll huddle up and we’ll make adjustments. But for now, we’re just playing ball.”
Cavs coach David Blatt, who earlier in the week downplayed the significance of Thompson missing time in camp, said Thursday he is unaware of Thompson’s whereabouts at the moment. Thompson was in Miami working out as of late last week, according to sources.
With the deadline on Thompson’s qualifying offer looming, Blatt did not share a gut feeling of how things would turn out.
“I’ll be interested to see what happens at 11:59 tonight,” Blatt said. “From there, we’ll go from there.”