The wait is over. The Cavaliers have blinked.
After holding out for almost the entire preseason, Tristan Thompson is ready to re-join the Cleveland Cavaliers. The former Texans Longhorn got his first major contract, signing a five-year deal worth a guaranteed $82 million. That makes Thompson one of the highest-paid players at his position, and will give the Cavaliers an historically high roster salary.
While the number may startle other players around the league, it was a forgone conclusion that Thompson was going to get paid. That can be traced back to May, when LeBron James told media after one practice that Thompson should be a “Cavalier for his whole career.” James, who shares an agent with Thompson, once again has pulled all the right strings to keep the Cavaliers in the title chase.
Here’s the scoop on Thompson’s new deal:
1. The Entire Contract is Guaranteed
While Thompson didn’t get every dollar he desired, he wont be losing anything on his new deal. His new five-year contract is fully guaranteed. That banks him $82 million in total, and that doesn’t include player or team options.
Thompson had previously been seeking a max deal for five years, which would be worth $94 million. But for months the Cavaliers would only go as high as $80 million. Thompson is one of several key Cavaliers to re-sign this offseason, including Kevin Love and J.R. Smith. The only Cavaliers who aren’t locked into multi-year deals are LeBron and Timofey Mozgov, who each have one year remaining.
2. Thompson Rejected the Cavaliers’ Initial Offer
Thompson hasn’t played with the Cavaliers all summer, and has held out much longer than originally expected. The Cavaliers wanted Thompson to sign a qualifying offer earlier this month, so that Thompson could return to the team while negotiations continued. That contract was worth $6.8 million, and expired October 1st.
While many think the Cavs are overpaying for Thompson, it’s hard to judge the financial impact. The NBA is about to be flooded with TV money, and the salary cap is expected to soar over the next two seasons. Thompson isn’t the only player to receive a questionable contract this offseason, but he may be the most deserving. Thompson is only 24, and has played in all 82 games for the Cavs in three straight seasons.
3. He is Now the NBA’s Sixth-Highest Paid Power Forward
At $16.4 million annually, Thompson is now cemented among the league’s highest-paid players. That number puts him in the top 20 for player salaries, and higher than other big names such as John Wall, James Harden, and DeMarcus Cousins. Cousins, who will make $15.8 million this season, went to Twitter to share his reaction to Thompson’s contract.
While the number is high for Thompson, it doesn’t even make him the highest-paid power forward on his team. Kevin Love is expected to make $19.6 million this season, around the same as new Spurs forward LaMarcus Aldridge. Those numbers are still behind Chris Bosh, whose $22.2 million this year is highest among power forwards in the NBA.
4. Thompson Was Cleveland’s Best Rebounder Last Season
Thompson isn’t the player that makes the highlight reel, but is a valuable asset to any offense. Last season, Thompson led the Cavaliers with 274 offensive rebounds. That’s almost double the next-highest total, held by Kevin Love (142). Offensive rebounds add extra possessions to the offense, which the Cavaliers sorely needed last year when playcalling broke down.
With Thompson on the block, the Cavaliers attempted the second-most three point shots in the NBA last season, trailing only the Houston Rockets. Thompson, despite officially starting only 15 games, finished fifth in the NBA in offensive rebounds.
5. Cleveland’s Salary is Now Over $170 Million
With offseason contracts for Love, Smith, and now Thompson, the Cavaliers salary is now entering historic territory. Between the aforementioned three, LeBron, and Krie Irving, the Cavs are shelling out more than $300 million in guaranteed money.
The good news is that everybody is now locked in for the season. LeBron has a new contract, and has an option for the 2016 season. Kyrie’s contract is until 2020, as is Kevin Love’s $110 million deal. The only major factor that isn’t locked down is Timofey Mozgov, whose contract expires at the end of this season.
In total, the Cavalier’s salary is set to be one of the highest of all time. That mark is currently held by the 2013-14 Brooklyn Nets, who boasted a total payroll of $197 million.