Deadline passes with no deal for Tristan Thompson, Cavaliers

ByDave McMenamin ESPN logo
Friday, October 2, 2015

CLEVELAND -- Cavaliers free-agent forward Tristan Thompson did not accept a one-year, $6.8 million qualifying offer for the 2015-16 season by Thursday's 11:59 p.m. ET deadline, according to a source with knowledge of the situation.

Thompson remains a restricted free agent, and negotiations between his representative, Rich Paul, and the Cavs will now continue with only a few possible outcomes remaining to get Thompson back in his familiar No. 13 jersey in Cleveland and end the standoff that has already caused him to miss the first three days of training camp.

With the one-year option off the table -- Thompson can no longer unilaterally accept the qualifying offer at that rate unless the Cavs choose to make it available again -- negotiations will shift toward both sides coming to terms on a multiyear deal.

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.

Paul could also seek an outside offer from another team for his client, but the Cavs would have the right to match any offer of the sort because Thompson remains a restricted free agent.

The news comes on the heels of Cavs general manager David Griffin expressing optimism that Thompson would be reporting to camp soon.

"We fully expect that tomorrow he will be here in some form or fashion," Griffin said during NBA TV's broadcast of Thursday's training camp. "We're hopeful that he wants to move forward with his teammates in the same way that we want to have Tristan here. If we can come to some agreement, then we will."

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."

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