(Our Basketball Panel Answers Five Questions About Tristan Thompson)
What do you make of DeMarcus Cousins tweet of ‘How Much’ after Tristan Thompson signed a five year $82 million dollar deal?
Mallory Stith-Wheat: Twitter at it’s best. Cousins wrote what everyone else was thinking. So the Cavs are passing out lottery money. I want some.
Brendan Gillespie: Hater time. Look, Cousins knows he’s ten times the player that Thompson is. He put up 24 and 12 last year. No way in hell Thompson could ever do that. He is not a talented scorer. And yet he’s making $20 million more than Cousins basically because of luck. LeBron James is on his team. If Thompson was with the Kings he would get about $50 million. Grow up Cousins. Life ain’t fair.
C.J.Humphries: It cracked me up because it was so Boogie like to crack on someone’s deal like that. Is it in the Kentucky water? You go to Kentucky and you got to hate when someone gets overpaid. First John Wall and now Boogie.
Valerie Morales: Thompson getting overpaid helps Cousins. Whenever an owner refuses to suppress a player’s salary who doesn’t deserve the salary he has been offered, that elevates the salaries for all because it creates a new bottom line. Furthermore it’s an antiquated notion that what you get paid is reflective of your relevance.
Is Thompson worth it?
Ben Kalra: With the salary cap set to explode in the coming years, contracts like this one might become the norm for good role players. If Thompson improves, this salary could end up being worth it over time.
Alex Khalifa: It does feel like a steep contract but mostly because its hard to comprehend how much money the league is making. Thompson is an elite offensive rebounder and a quality defender. It’s not like the Cavs had the cap room to sign other big free agents in the near future, either.
C.J.: Hell no he isn’t worth it. He’s a 10 point a game scorer who grabs offensive rebounds in critical situations. Don’t get it twisted. He’s not Dennis Rodman. He’s a better Ed Davis, okay. But that’s not the point. It’s not about what Thompson is worth. Rich Paul knows it’s about what he can demand and what can be delivered to him. Thompson will never outperform his contract but so what? This isn’t a Jon Koncak deal. Sorry Hawks fans for unearthing the tomb of baaaaad memories.
Julian Billick: I think we can go a little bit sideways when we talk about a player’s worth. Worth isn’t always translated into stat sheet numbers. Thompson provides a service that the Cavs need. He hustles. He gets in there and provides extra possessions. The way this Cavs roster is put together, they aren’t going to have a lot of 20+ blowouts. They don’t have dominant offensive scorers. So they will have a lot of games with a 5-7 point margin. Thompson’s energy infects the entire team to raise their level. You can’t put a price tag on that.
So in this long staring contest, who won? The Cavs or Thompson.
Ben: Thompson wins. He is now the NBA’s sixth highest paid power forward…as a bench player. Don’t get me wrong. Thompson is a fantastic rebounder and defender, but he does not do enough to warrant such a big contract. He likely will not log 30 minutes per game barring injury to Kevin Love or Timofey Mozgov, and he will not bring very much to the team offensively. Although the Cavs got what they wanted, they are now in historic luxury tax bracket and they could have used this money to sign a player of a higher caliber than Thompson.
Alex: Thompson certainly wins given the dollar amount of the deal. Because the salary cap will be rising, perhaps the Cavaliers win too on a smaller scale. After all, they had already offered $80 million during the summer. They needed him given the injuries on their roster and this gets them on the right foot to start the season.
C.J. It’s a tie, a push. Thompson gets grossly overpaid- good for him. But the Cavs set their price and didn’t budge. They didn’t inhabit island crazy and give a bench player max money because LeBron’s close friend is his agent. They had a number and Thompson had to back down. The Cavs also lose. If anything happens to Thompson like injury or production, it’s a contract they can’t move. The Cavs are stuck with this cast for the next few years given LeBron’s going to get in the ballpark of $35 million next year.
Mallory: Thompson in a photo finish. He has skewed the salaries for energy guys that make a difference in the playoffs. But Thompson loses too. He is going to be identified and judged by his contract. Same as Joe Johnson and Kobe Bryant. The difference being Johnson and Bryant had impressive resumes on their own and were leaders of their team.
That leads me to this. Does Thompson, because of his very public holdout and the amount of money he is making- he makes more than Steph Curry- does he have the most pressure of any individual Cavalier player?
Ben: No. LeBron has the most pressure of anyone on the Cavs. He is pushing hard to bring Cleveland its first championship and he is also fighting to cement his legacy as one of the best players in NBA history. Thompson’s obligation is to go out there and rebound and play great defense, that’s it. LeBron, on the other hand, must deliver this city a title.
Alex: LeBron still has the most pressure to win for the hometown fans. Even Kevin Love faces the scrutiny of being traded for phenom Andrew Wiggins. The money is big but the expectations were already there for the entire team.
Mallory: The entire Cavs team and organization is under pressure to get this thing done. LeBron is in his thirties now. He is still in his prime but his body has taken a beating and he has done more than any player this past decade. No one can say how long the body is going to hold up. So the Cavs are in win right now mode. There is something very desperate about them. They are that man who has been given a few years to live. Better make the best out of it. The thing is, Thompson doesn’t have the pressure to deliver wins, that is on LeBron. But he does have pressure to make a difference, to be an impact, to change the game.
Valerie: Pressure operates on two levels, internally and externally. Internal pressure is symptomatic of how Thompson views himself in regards to this contract. Does he feel the need to do more? Is he doing too much? We saw that last season with Lance Stephenson. Players often feel they have to validate the contract which in itself is anti-productive. It makes them do things that is far outside their capabilities or what they are asked to do. It doesn’t work. They struggle. They get defensive when questioned about performance. They try harder. It’s a slippery slope. The external pressure from the media and fans is only applicable when you struggle early and the fans start to resent the money you are making. Fans don’t really care how much players get. They only care if you get that money and don’t produce.
So now they have Thompson back, the Cavs are going to steamroll the East, right?
Ben: Nothing can guarantee a trip to the Finals before a season even begins. So many things can go right. But the Cavs must be an overwhelming favorite to represent the East because of their talent and continuity. This group is very similar to the team that came two wins away from a championship last year.
Alex: This won’t hurt Cleveland’s status as the favorite in the East. Atlanta, Chicago or Toronto could still sneak into the top seed or knock off the Cavs in a playoff series, especially with some bad injury luck. I’m not sure why you’d bet on it though.
Mallory: That’s the wrong question to ask. It’s more significant to wonder are the Cavs going to be healthy? Kyrie Irving has never played a full season. Iman Shumpert has never played a full season. Kevin Love played 81 games his rookie year, that’s it. Mo Williams has never played a full season. Timofey Mosgov has played a full season or close to it, twice. And now Mozgov is complaining about his knee. LeBron has back issues. You know why the Cavs finally got the Thompson deal done. This is looking like a mash unit. No one is healthy and the season hasn’t even started.
C.J.: The Cavs will be there when it is all said and done if LeBron is healthy. It has nothing to do with Thompson but the competition. I don’t trust Gasol to be healthy in the playoffs. Something usually falls off with him. Can Derrick Rose accept he is not the best player on the Bulls? Probably not. Has John Wall suddenly found his missing jump shot in the vault of lost artifacts? Doubt it. I don’t buy the Heat. They can’t rebound or defend the three and Wade always breaks. Atlanta is a three point shooting team without size where it matters most or explosiveness or a star. Toronto, no. So yeah, the Cavs, if healthy, are back in the Finals.
photo via llananba