LeBron James: Signing Tristan Thompson ‘our No. 1 objective right now’
While the Cleveland Cavaliers front office has done an admirable job of upgrading the roster around LeBron James, the team’s de facto player-coach-general manager indicated Thursday that signing restricted free agent Tristan Thompson to a contract is the Cleveland Cavaliers’ “No. 1 objective right now.”
“He’s a huge part of our team,” James said of Thompson, per Northeast Ohio Media Group’s Joe Varndon . “Short-term and long term he makes our team more dangerous.”
The negotiations between Thompson and the team seemingly were proving fruitful at the onset of the NBA’s free agency period, and it was believed the parties were nearing a five-year, $80 million deal. But talks broke down after reports indicated Thompson and his agent were seeking a near-max deal.
Making matters worse, Thompson’s agent, Rich Paul — who also happens to be James’ agent — said earlier this week that if his client plays out next season on a one-year, $6.9 million qualifying offer, things will not end well.
“A Tristan Thompson qualifying offer will be his last year with Cavs,” Paul told Northeast Ohio Media Group.
James made his comments about his teammate at a charity event for his LeBron James Family Foundation. Paul was also at the event, per ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, but declined comment on Thompson’s situation.
With the team re-signing James, Kevin Love, Iman Shumpert and James Jones — not to mention bringing in free agents Mo Williams and Richard Jefferson — the money the team already has invested in the roster has the Cavaliers facing major luxury tax implications, perhaps even to historic levels.
Thompson obviously has James in his corner — the Cavs superstar hasstumped for Thompson’s importance on more than one occasion — which certainly won’t hurt his cause. But even the superstar Cavalier understands that the parties ultimately will have to meet in the middle, some way or another.
“Things need to be worked out from his side and the Cavs but we need him back,” James said. “He’s an important resource.”