Center Tristan Thompson and the rest of the Cleveland Cavaliers are currently battling their perennial playoff opponents, Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors, in the 2018 NBA Finals. Thompson and the Cavs are currently down a game, with tonight’s Game 2 set for an 8 p.m. Eastern tipoff at ORACLE Arena, in Oakland, California.
Below you will find information about Thompson’s current contract and details about his salary.
According to ESPN, Thompson and the Cavaliers agreed to terms with a back-loaded, five-year contract worth $82 million in 2015.
“Thompson, 24, had been seeking a max contract of five years and $94 million or three years and $53 million. The Cavs had previously offered five years and $80 million. While Thompson settled for less than the max, his deal is larger than many league officials thought he would get heading into the summer,” ESPN reported at the time.
The contract is back-loaded, according to the breakdown on athletic contract tracker Spotrac. Under the deal, Thompson was paid $14.2 million for the 2015-16 season and $15.3 million for the 2016-17 season. He’s currently receiving $16.4 million for the 2017-18 season and will be paid $17.4 million for 2018-19 and $18.5 for 2019-20.
For overall value, Spotrac ranks Thompson’s deal as the 39th-highest in the NBA. The league is led by opponent Steph Curry’s massive five-year, $200 million deal that carries an average annual value (AAV) of more than $40 million. Thompson’s deal is the third-richest on the Cavaliers roster, behind center Kevin Love’s five-year, $113 million contract and small forward LeBron James’ three-year, $99.9 million deal.
Obviously, that puts Thompson behind both Love and James in terms of AAV in Cleveland. When considering average value, Thompson’s $16.4 million AAV also falls behind point guard George Hill’s average of $19 million on his three-year, $57 million contract.
Positionally, Thompson’s contract has the ninth-highest total value among centers, league-wide. Andre Drummond of the Detroit Pistons sets the pace with a $127 million deal. In terms of annual value, the Boston Celtics’ Al Horford is at the front of the pack with a four-year term and $113 million total value, averaging out to $28 million annually. Thompson’s $16.4 million AAV is good for 15th among NBA centers.
As reported by the Sporting News, the Cavaliers got around the NBA’s “soft” salary cap for Thompson’s contract. Unlike a hard-cap system — under which team payroll cannot exceed a league-wide limit — a soft cap can be broken under certain conditions.
“The most-used exception is the right to retain their own players, commonly referred to as “Bird rights.” Teams can bring in new talent via trades and other exceptions but franchises with substantial salary obligations have fewer and less palatable options to maximize their talent,” the Sporting News reported in 2015.
The Thompson deal pushed Cleveland over the salary cap, forcing them to pay a luxury tax, which amounts to a financial penalty for exceeding the cap. Luxury tax funds are then divvied up among compliant teams. After signing Thompson, the Cavaliers were pushed into deep waters that were within a scope of near-historic.
“Adding Thompson to the books has pushed the Cavs’ payroll past $100 million, and their luxury-tax obligations potentially into the $170 million range. That will represent the second-highest combined payroll and tax payouts in NBA history, after Mikhail Prokhorov’s Brooklyn Nets, who doled out $197 million in 2013-14,” according to CBS Sports.