How Tristan Thompson Could Be a Part of the Toronto Raptors in 2016


Tristan Thompson a Part of the Toronto Raptors By 2016? Not As Crazy As You Think

ESPN’s Brian Windhorst said it best in his article yesterday on Tristan Thompson’s contract negotiations with the Cleveland Cavaliers: it is a curious case indeed.

What Windhorst went on to suggest in his piece was that, despite the popular belief during the playoffs that had Thompson cashing in big during this offseason, he may even have something bigger in mind.

That something may not even include Cleveland at all.

We are now going to open our textbooks to page 101, titled free agency economics for dummies (such as myself).

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As of right now, Thompson is a restricted free agent, meaning that the Cavaliers would be able to match whatever offer another team around the league would be able to send to the 24-year-old big man.

The problem for Thompson at this time, is that no other team can possibly offer Thompson anything worth leaving LeBron James’ side, without them exceeding this year’s cap.

According to Windhorst’s article, the Portland Trailblazers are the only ones that could conceivably pull it off, and they have no such needs for Thompson at such a steep price he is demanding from Cleveland.

As of now, Thompson is demanding a max-deal of $95 million over five years, something that Cleveland has completely left out of the question.

Jun 14, 2015; Oakland, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors guard

Stephen Curry

(30) fights for a loose ball with Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) and Cleveland Cavaliers center Tristan Thompson (13) during the third quarter in game five of the NBA Finals at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Thompson and his agent Rich Paul, the same one who also works for LeBron James, have remained steadfast, which is why he hasn’t re-signed.

But truthfully, it is not inconceivable to believe that even Thompson knows that his demands are laughable, more on that in a second.

When it is all said and done, most likely Thompson will end up back in Cleveland next year to the sum of about $7 million, which was his original qualifying offer for this season from his current contract.

At the end of the day, it makes sense for the Cavs to do this, as it will actually be cheaper for them to engage in a bidding war for Thompson next season, as oppose to overpay and deal with the luxury taxes of going over the cap this season.

It also sends a very bad message from management to the rest of the top-level talent on that roster. If Thompson is getting a max deal, what the hell are LeBron, Kevin Love, or Kyrie Irving going to be worth when their times come?

It would be the kind of question that would have Cavs owner Dan Gilbert waking up at night in a cold sweat to the sounds of his own screams. The likes of which that would make his night terrors after LeBron left seem like better times.

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    Getting back to Thompson, this is where we here in Toronto get to play ‘connect the dots’.

    If Thompson really thinks a ten and ten player is worth a max deal, he is out of his mind.

    Granted, there really is no precedent anymore for NBA free agents, because of the ridiculous cap increases that we are currently in the middle of over the next few years.

    But that is exactly why any player that’s worth anything are signing one and two-year deals at the moment.

    They are looking for the big payday next season when the annual salary cap increases to $90 million, which will spawn record-breaking contracts for many players across the league.

    Some of these players might actually start making as much money as they are making from Nike, Under Armour, and their former alma maters (who said that!?).

    One of those players that will be a free agent is Kevin Durant, a player that the Toronto Raptors (and Drake) have not ruled out going after next offseason.

    The Raptors have the cap space to sign Durant in the summer of 2016. It’s the same reason that, despite an embarrassing sweep in the first round to the lower seeded Washington Wizards, Raptors GM Masai Ujiri has let the sixth man of the year in Lou Williams walk, and has picked up a couple of players that are of very little consequence to the results of this season (sorry CoJo, but you’re still a minute eating bench guy until proven otherwise for now).

    But if all pans out in Cleveland and Thompson is a free agent next year, a homecoming with Toronto would definitely not be out of the question.

    The Raptors will offer him something, and Thompson will look at it, you can bet on that.

    Only two things can prevent that offer from being presented:

    1. The Cavaliers sign Thompson long-term in the next two months.
    2. Either Thompson or the Raptors perform so poorly this season that neither will have an interest looking at the other.

    That first option seems pretty unlikely at this moment the way things are dragging, and the good news is that the Raptors are much less likely to regress than Thompson, making him not only attainable but cheaper than what he is asking for now.

    Not only is their cap space for Thompson next off-season, a player like him could be a necessity moving forward.

    Keep in mind, there is a good chance Thompson might be coming off the bench to start the year with a returning Andrew Varajeo and Kevin Love at the posts, as both were injured during almost all of the playoffs last year.

    When you also add in Timofey Mozgov to the mix, who was just as essential to the Cavs as Thompson was for the second half of last season and the playoffs, and you can see the reason Cleveland is not so quick to shell out $95 million to a guy who might not even start next year.

    Now look over at the Raptors, who only have Patrick Patterson and Bismack Biyombo as realistic contributors at the four and five-spot on the books for the 2016-17 campaign.

    Not only is their cap space for Thompson next off-season, a player like him could be a necessity moving forward. Especially if Jonas Valenciunas makes little to no progress on the defensive and rebounding ends this season.

    Add in the fact that Thompson’s old college and high school teammate, Corey Joseph, will now be looked to become a part of the Raptors for years to come, and a return home for the Brampton native doesn’t seem all that crazy after all.

    Jul 22, 2015; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Raptors guard

    Cory Joseph

    takes pictures with fans during the game between Canada and Argentina in the men

    Quite a few things have to happen on Thompson’s end for this to be a reality, but all the Raptors have to do is continue to be competitive, and even if Ujiri whiffs on Durant next offseason, it will only mean more money to offer Thompson if he continues with his double-double ways.

    It would be one thing for the Raptors to get a superstar, but every championship team needs those hustle and heart guys. Thompson showed that in spades during last year’s playoffs, while the Raptors showed their lack of it.

    If it does pan out, ‘We the North’ could be a literal statement by 2017. Andrew Wiggins anyone?

    Next: 4 Lessons Raptors' Fans Learned this Offseason

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