CLEVELAND – Already an elite rebounder, Tristan Thompson snatched a long-term contract from the Cavaliers.
The restricted free-agent forward has agreed in principle with the defending Eastern Conference champions on a five-year, $82 million contract, ending his holdout and giving the Cavs needed frontcourt depth as they enter a new season.
The team confirmed Wednesday night that it had a verbal agreement with Thompson, who helped the Cavs get to the NBA Finals last season by filling in for an injured Kevin Love. Thompson had been seeking a maximum deal, while the Cavs made it known they valued the former No. 4 overall pick, but weren’t going to overpay for a reserve
The sides had been in an awkward stalemate, which threatened to carry over into the regular season. However agent Rich Paul, who also represents star LeBron James, and Cleveland’s front office were able to come to terms less than a week before the opener at Chicago.
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There’s a chance the deal will be finalized Thursday and Thompson, who has been working out on his own during the holdout, can begin practicing.
Thompson posted a photo on Instagram wearing a Cavaliers’ baseball cap.
“It’s been a long summer of grinding and hard work but now it’s back to The Land to take care of some unfinished business,” Thompson wrote.
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It’s been a long summer of grinding and hard work but now it’s back to The Land to take care of some unfinished business. #HappyToBeBack #ALLin
With Thompson’s deal and extensions given this summer to James, Love, J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert, owner Dan Gilbert has shelled out nearly $300 million in guaranteed money during the off-season.
Thompson will be among the league’s highest-paid power forwards.
When Thompson declined to sign a one-year, $6.9 million qualifying offer from the team last month, it appeared he might be willing to sit out part of the regular season. James had called Thompson’s holdout a “distraction” and the impasse over the contract threatened to sidetrack the Cavs from getting back to the Finals.
But now Thompson will back up Love and provide his usual energy for Cleveland’s second unit.
Thompson came through in the playoffs after Love dislocated his left shoulder in the first round. The affable 24-year-old averaged 9.6 points and 10.8 rebounds in the post-season. He averaged 8.5 points and 8.0 rebounds in the regular season.
Cleveland chose Thompson three selections after drafting Kyrie Irving with the first overall pick in 2011.