When it comes to understanding the intricacies of the NBA collective bargaining agreement and all of the rules relating to the salary cap and player salaries, no one is an authority quite like Larry Coon. His understanding of the finer points is truly impressive. He often hosts chats to try and clear up confusion and weigh in on basketball issues of the day over at Basketball Insiders.
oh, RE: TT's deal pic.twitter.com/b1ZLNMVRMQ— Carter Rodríguez (@Carter_Shade) October 15, 2015
There are a few things going on here. One, if it's true, is that it's really just shrewd negotiating by the Cavs. With Thompson's ability to accept a one-year deal and bolt next summer off the table, Thompson's options are much diminished. It's just the state of restricted free agency. He can sign with another team, which would get matched and could only be for four years at most, or he can sign with the Cavs for multiple years, or he can take the season off and kickstart the restricted process all over again next summer.
With only the Portland Trail Blazers having over $11 million in cap space (and showing no inclination to want to sign Thompson) there isn't an avenue for Thompson to negotiate.
There is a little more to this, of course. The Cavs are hurt and not great in the frontcourt without him. He shares an agent with LeBron James who can be a free agent next summer. No one really thinks James would leave over this, but many just assumed Thompson would get a max because of their relationship. It's a weird spot.
I don't believe the Cavs can win a championship without Tristan Thompson or a replacement. There is no easy scenario for finding a replacement. In the meantime, the easy middle ground for Thompson and the Cavs to find has been apparent for months, and there's been no movement. The Cavs might not need Thompson, or at least might not feel like they need him, early in the season. We just may find out if that's the case.