CLEVELAND: As the clock ticks toward Friday’s midnight deadline, there is a sense of optimism the Cavaliers and Tristan Thompson will come to an agreement on a contract extension, multiple sources with knowledge of the talks said.
If an agreement isn’t reached prior to the deadline, Thompson will become a restricted free agent next summer and the Cavs can match any offer he receives from another team. But it may not get that far.
“We’d like to sign Tristan long-term to the Cavaliers. I don’t think that’s any secret,” owner Dan Gilbert said Wednesday. “I believe they’d like to do that as well. So we’ll hopefully see what happens this week.”
Contract talks with Thompson are complicated by Anderson Varejao’s expiring deal. Varejao can be an unrestricted free agent next summer, but both sides are interested in an extension, particularly with the return of LeBron James. Varejao is making $9.7 million in the final year of a six-year, $48 million deal he signed in 2009.
With salaries for big men escalating and an injection of cash coming with the new television deal, it seems unlikely Varejao would accept a dramatic salary reduction. Varejao is represented by Dan Fegan and Thompson is represented by Rich Paul. It’s fair to assume both parties are closely watching negotiations with the other side, one league source acknowledged, meaning it’s likely both guys will ultimately make about the same amount if they sign extensions.
Coach David Blatt has often said throughout the preseason the two players are so similar they’re interchangeable. The biggest difference between them is their age and injury history.
Varejao, 32, missed large chunks of three seasons before staying relatively healthy last season. Thompson, who won’t turn 24 until March, will start the season with an active streak of 206 consecutive games played. He is believed to be seeking an extension that starts north of $10 million per season.
“We love Tristan and we want to see him here,” Blatt said. “It’s not my job to take care of those things, but I will say it’s in the hands of very good people.”
LeBron James confirmed the birth last week of his daughter, Zhuri Nova. She is the third child for James and his wife, Savannah.
“My family is happy and it’s a blessing to be able to add another one to our family,” James said. It is the family’s first daughter.
“It’s different. It’s a lot different,” James said of having a girl. “You give rough love to your boys and you give soft love to your daughter. I understand that and I’m looking forward to the journey of all three of them growing up.”
Gilbert covered a variety of topics during Wednesday’s availability.
•?On Phase 2 of his downtown Horseshoe casino: “Phase 2 is something we still plan on developing,” he said. “We bought all that land along the river … we’re into design phases.”
Gilbert, however, could not provide a timeline on when it will be built.
•?On the NBA’s stiffer luxury tax scale, which Gilbert said will not impact personnel decisions: “I almost think it’s kind of silly when you invest so much into a franchise and have such high costs already, and then at the margin [stop spending]. … It’s like getting to the 2-yard line and [saying], ‘Okay, we’re done now.’?”
•?On GM David Griffin: “There is nobody better than Griff. You can go back to February when we made the change, and we won six games in a row. I know a lot of people say, ‘How could that really matter? How could changing your front office in the middle of a season result immediately in a six-game winning streak? But there was an effect immediately from David Griffin. So forgetting all the great moves that he made and all the levity that he brought to the front office — he brings a culture and a soul.”
The Cavs have launched a new mobile app for all Apple and Android phones that is available at the Apple app store and on Google Play. The app will allow fans to view real-time game statistics and watch instant replays from multiple angles on their devices when they are inside the arena.
Jason Lloyd can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Cavs blog at www.ohio.com/cavs. Follow him on Twitter www.twitter.com/JasonLloydABJ. Follow ABJ sports on Facebook at www.facebook.com/abj.sports.